LUBBOCK, Texas (LifeSiteNews) – Planned Parenthood has dropped a lawsuit against an abortion ban in Lubbock, Texas, allowing the city to remain an abortion-free “sanctuary city for the unborn” in what pro-lifers are hailing as a “historic victory” for the right to life.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas filed a motion Thursday to withdraw its appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that dismissed the lawsuit in June.
Lubbock’s pro-life “sanctuary” ordinance, approved by voters in May 2021, outlaws abortion “at all times and at all stages of pregnancy” within city limits and empowers relatives of an aborted baby, including a child’s mother, father or grandparents, to sue abortion providers for damages.
The measure, which passed 63 percent to 37 percent, also makes it illegal to “knowingly aid or abet an abortion,” such as by providing a mother with transportation or money to abort her baby. It includes exemptions when “necessary to save the life of the mother,” though not for rape or incest.
Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Lubbock to block the policy days after voters endorsed it in May. But Judge James Wesley Hendrix, a Trump appointee, dismissed the case when the ban took effect at the beginning of June, ruling that Planned Parenthood didn’t have standing to sue Lubbock, as the city doesn’t enforce the ordinance.
The abortion giant, which opened an affiliate in Lubbock in 2020, announced on June 1 that it had stopped committing abortions in city. Planned Parenthood appealed Hendrix’s ruling to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Planned Parenthood’s motion to drop its appeal came after the Supreme Court on Thursday refused to speed up a challenge to the Texas Heartbeat Act, which bans abortion statewide at around six weeks of pregnancy and remains in effect after almost five months of litigation. The high court’s decision sends the case to the Republican-dominated Texas Supreme Court.
‘An answer to so many of our prayers’
Right to Life East Texas hailed the demise of Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against Lubbock as “a major and historic victory for the right to life.”
“The Lubbock ordinance marks the first time that an abortion ban has survived [a] court challenge in the United States since Roe v. Wade,” the group noted in a press release Thursday.
“We are thrilled that Planned Parenthood has dropped its lawsuit against the city of Lubbock, which was meritless from the outset,” said Mark Lee Dickson, director of Right to Life East Texas and founder of Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative. “We have said from the beginning that the abortion bans we have drafted are bulletproof from court challenge, and we are pleased that the litigation over Lubbock’s ordinance has proven us right.”
Texas Sen. Charles Perry of Lubbock, who backed the ordinance, also praised the victory in a statement last week.
“I congratulate the City and the people of Lubbock on this—and for becoming the first jurisdiction in the United States to successfully defend an abortion ban in court since Roe v. Wade,” the Republican state senator said. “This is an answer to so many of our prayers.”
“With the Texas Heartbeat Act taking effect last September, and with Lubbock having outlawed abortion within city limits, the state of Texas is leading the way on protecting the unborn despite the continued existence of Roe v. Wade.”
In a major and historic victory for the right to life, Planned Parenthood is dropping its lawsuit over the city of Lubbock’s abortion ban, ensuring that the ordinance will remain in effect! #txlege #prolife #sanctuarycityfortheunborn pic.twitter.com/SrGsx1GlTD
— Dustin Burrows (@Burrows4TX) January 21, 2022
With more than 250,000 residents, Lubbock is the largest city in the United States to have declared itself a “sanctuary city for the unborn” and the first with an active abortion facility to do so.
The “sanctuary” movement gained momentum in Lubbock after Planned Parenthood announced plans to open its abortion center in the city two years ago. The facility opened in fall 2020 and began aborting babies in mid-April 2021; the abortion ban went into effect in June.
A total of 43 U.S. cities in have outlawed abortion within their city limits, including more than two dozen in Texas.