With a population of just over a quarter million, Lubbock, Texas, has achieved what many pro-life Americans desire to see: a city where Planned Parenthood can actually be forced to close up its abortion business. This week the abortion giant’s lawsuit to have the city’s “Sanctuary for the Unborn” ordinance declared unconstitutional was dismissed by a federal judge. That caused Planned Parenthood to announce it would stop performing abortions at its clinic located within city limits rather than risk the possibility of being sued by families of women who underwent abortions.
Lubbock voters just recently passed the ordinance, which bans abortion there, via a city-wide vote after its city council refused to do so. Planned Parenthood does what it usually does when state and local governments try to protect preborn life or the women who undergo abortions – they sued and asked a federal court to block it by issuing an injunction.
Except it didn’t work this time. United States District Judge James Wesley Hendrix ruled that Planned Parenthood lacking “standing” to bring the lawsuit because of the way the Lubbock ordinance was drafted. In essence, the ordinance can only be enforced – at the present time – by what is called a “private right of action,” meaning only the women who underwent an abortion, plus certain family members, can bring a civil suit in a Texas state court for damages due to emotional distress caused by the abortion.
The federal courts have no authority to order state courts to refuse to hear such claims, Hendrix stated in his ruling, and any claims that Roe v. Wade somehow negates the ordinance must be left to the state courts. Thus, the judge said, he had nothing to offer Planned Parenthood that would stop such civil suits even if he ruled in its favor, so the case must be dismissed.
The ordinance does contain some criminal enforcement possibilities by the city, but the terms of the ordinance make clear that those will only take effect if and when Roe v. Wade is overturned. So the only part of the ordinance that created potential liability for Planned Parenthood at the moment was the possibility that someone would sue them for emotional distress.
So the abortion seller announced it would no longer be performing abortions at its Lubbock clinic until such time as they are “legally permissible.”
That’s a great victory for Texans in Lubbock and has positive implications for the recently passed statewide “heartbeat bill” which also leaves enforcement up to private parties bringing lawsuits against abortion sellers. Abortionists are panicked over that bill as well.
Despite the pro-life win in Lubbock, there’s reason to temper our celebrations. The battle to save pre-born lives there is not over.
The federal judge in the Lubbock case didn’t rule that the ordinance was constitutional, he just said he couldn’t answer that question because Planned Parenthood can’t, constitutionally speaking, bring a federal lawsuit – yet. He did say that the Texas state courts might rule that Lubbock did not have the authority under Texas law to enact the ordinance. But he also hinted that it looked like that issue would be resolved in Lubbock’s favor as well.
You can safely predict that somewhere, Planned Parenthood’s attorneys are preparing that state lawsuit and looking for a friendly court and judge in Texas to bring it to. So, don’t get overconfident that this is finally the way to end abortion. Keep praying.
Nevertheless, at the moment, no abortions are being performed in Lubbock. Hopefully the lack of easy access to abortions there will make some young mothers reconsider and choose life for their babies.
And that would be a victory for life we can all celebrate.
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