Gilmer latest, largest Texas city yet to ‘preemptively’ outlaw abortion

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Right to life East Texas visit
(Photo: Mark Lee Dickerson)

GILMER, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Yet another East Texas city has passed an ordinance outlawing abortion within city limits, but this time they dialed back on what the city manager calls “inflammatory” language used by others that have enacted similar so-called sanctuary city laws.

The Gilmer City Council passed what they’re calling a “Safe Haven” law Tuesday night in a vote of 4-1, with 2 council members absent.

The Upshur County city northwest of Longview is one of several that have been targeted in a campaign led by Right to Life East Texas to pass similar laws. With Tuesday’s vote, it becomes the sixth and largest so far to do so even though it currently does not have any abortion clinics.

City Manager Greg Hutson says Right to Life East Texas Director Mark Lee Dickerson showed up at one of their July city council meetings.

“We didn’t ask for this. Waskom did what they did and we figured it might come here, but when it did it was on July 23 and Mark Dickerson showed up for public comment. My policy as City Manager is we will at least have a discussion. Nothing may come of it, but by God, we will discuss it.”

Hutson says the city worked with Texas Right to Life, however, and not Dickerson’s organization. And he points out that Gilmer’s version of the law does not include the “inflammatory language” used in Waskom’s ordinance, “but still accomplished the same purpose.”

“This whole issue is volatile. The wording in the Waskom ordinance is like throwing gasoline on the fire. Like calling it murder. We believe abortion is the taking of a human life,” Hutson explained, but “a city does not have the right to call something murder if it’s not in the Texas penal code.”

Still, Gilmer’s “Safe Haven” ordinance asserts that the Supreme Court erred in Roe v. Wade when it said that pregnant women have a constitutional right to abort their unborn children, “as there is no language anywhere in the Constitution that even remotely suggests that abortion is a constitutional right.”

But unless it’s overturned, Hutson says Roe v. Wade remains the law of the land and Gilmer’s ordinance does not infringe on a woman’s right to have an abortion within the city limits. He says it’s nothing more than “a strategy for the future.”

“This ordinance is not enforceable until and if Roe v. Wade gets turned over. Everybody thinks we’re trampling on constitutional rights, but all we’re saying is we’re preempting. The majority…at least everybody I’ve talked to, the vast majority are pro-life.”

Waskom became the first city in Texas to declare itself a ‘sanctuary city for the unborn’ in June. Right to Life East Texas has promoted the movement in other cities around East Texas. In early September, Naples, Omaha, and Joaquin followed suit.

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