Despite many citizens and a pro-life group asking the council to approve an ordinance outlawing abortion, the Lindale City Council chose to take a less forceful approach during Tuesday night’s meeting.
Alongside several residents, Right to Life of East Texas director Mark Lee Dickson implored the council to vote in favor of an ordinance making abortion illegal within the city limits and stop clinics from coming to Lindale. If enacted, a city becomes known as a sanctuary city for the unborn.
He said many Lindale residents reached out to him in favor of an ordinance. A total of 12 cities, including Waskom, Tenaha, Naples, Gilmer, Omaha and Joaquin, have passed the ordinance.
The city council voted in favor of a resolution stating that human life begins at conception and the city supports change in the laws limiting government’s ability to regulate abortion at stages of pregnancy.
The city’s resolution also encourages Roe v. Wade to be overturned and asks federal and state officials to use every legal means possible to protect unborn children.
“The people of Lindale asked their city council to pass an ordinance that would effectively outlaw abortion,” Dickson said. “Instead of doing this, the city council passed a resolution of words instead of an ordinance of action.”
City Attorney Glen Patrick told those at the meeting an ordinance would include enforcement, which he advised would make the ordinance unconstitutional. He said if Roe v. Wade were overturned, enforcement would work.
Patrick said a resolution would state what the people of Lindale clearly want.
“The city attorney does not understand the ordinance and I believe it’s a great disservice to the residents of Lindale that Senator Bryan Hughes was not reached out to or any attorney that was involved in the writing of the ordinance,” Dickson said.
Dickson said the ordinance’s penalties cannot be enforced until the 1973 Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, is overturned.
However, he said the ordinance has a private mechanism, where a family member can sue the abortionist or those who helped with the procedure for the death of the child. Dickson said this method does not interfere with Roe v. Wade.
The possibility of being sued by a family member works as a deterrent. It does not criminalize the mother, but it does criminalize the abortionist and those who assisted, Dickson said.
“The attorney ignored that, and I think really showed that he did not know what he was talking about,” he said. “Basically, the city of Lindale has said this is an abortion-welcoming zone. This is a place where they’re not going to stop an abortion clinic from coming here.”
Dickson said he plans to return to the next council meeting in an effort to get the ordinance approved. On the sanctuary for the unborn website, Lindale is now listed as a city denying the ordinance.
Prior to resolution passage, Dickson said an ordinance stopping an abortion clinic within the city limits does not violate the U.S. Constitution and no city that has passed this ordinance has been sued.
During public forum, Lindale resident Joyce Rhodes told the council she finds abortion appalling and had to be vocal for the unborn.
“I have come to truly love Lindale,” Rhodes said. “I stand proudly for the unborn.”
Matt Myer, a Wells city councilman, said his city passed the ordinance to protect the unborn despite the possibility of lawsuits. He urged the Lindale City Council to pass the ordinance as well.
Speaking to the council for the third time, Paul Fancher said he worked with a group to stop abortion at the state level, but it didn’t work out. He’s working with Right to Life of East Texas to stop the practice at a city level.
“I am genuinely afraid people are going to face God’s judgment,” he said. “I am concerned with the laws of God. I am here in a legal capacity. I will continue to protect unborn children regardless if this ordinance passes.”
Resident Kayvon Richards said Lindale has an opportunity to take the right direction toward God by approving an ordinance.
“Lindale has that opportunity to be that city that shines through the state of Texas and world,” Richards said. “The babies can’t speak, but we can speak for them.”