Lubbock City Council Votes to Reject Proposed Ordinance Banning Abortion Within the City
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated at 4:30am on November 18, 2020, to include additional quotes from members of the city council.
Tuesday's Lubbock City Council meeting was one of the longer meetings in recent memory, taking over seven hours long. After handling all, but one, items on the meeting's agenda, the council began consideration of a proposed ordinance to ban abortion within the city. The proposed ordinance was submitted to the city council from the citizen petition process, which is a rarely used process outlined within the city charter.
As part of the citizen petition process, a public hearing was attached to the consideration for the proposed ordinance. Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope and the members of the city council listened to over four hours of citizen comments discussing numerous sides of the issue.
Following the conclusion of citizen comments, the members of the Lubbock City Council all had a chance to speak on the record before a vote was taken.
District 3 Councilman Jeff Griffith was the first council member to speak after the conclusion of the public hearing. Councilman Griffith stated that the legal issues surrounding proposed ordinance were insurmountable. Griffith noted that the legalization of abortion was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1973 in Roe v. Wade, and that the city can't overrule a Supreme Court ruling.
District 5 Councilman Randy Christian said he is pro-life, but he couldn't support the proposed ordinance because it would be in conflict of federal law. He noted that as part of the citizen petition process for proposed ordinances, the proposed ordinance would go to a vote of Lubbock's citizens, if rejected by the council. Councilman Christian said he favored having a vote of the citizens concerning the ordinance, rather than just having a vote of the council. He also said that if the council approved the ordinance, it would open the city to legal action, "... unconstitutional, unenforceable and costly," Christian said.
District 4 Councilman Steve Massengale said he disagreed with the "political stunting" of state elected officials concerning the proposed ordinance. District 28 State Senator Charles Perry (R- Lubbock) spoke during the citizen comments portion of Tuesday's meeting, stating he supported the proposed ordinance. "This ordinance is unenforceable and unconstitutional," Councilman Massengale said as he concluded his comments.
District 1 Councilman Juan Chadis echoed those similar thoughts saying, "My concern is if this ordinance were to pass, we as a city would be exposed to a costly legal battle." He later concluded, "And until the Supreme Court changes opinion on Roe v. Wade, I personally cannot support, and will not support the Sanctuary for the Unborn [ordinance] in the City of Lubbock."
District 2 Councilwoman Sheila Patterson-Harris attended Tuesday's city council meeting remotely. She said via Zoom, "I believe, that it is up to us to make sure we adhere to the laws that are in place at this moment. I would not begin to put something in place that we could not enforce."
District 6 Councilwoman Latrelle Joy said in part before the council's vote, "It is a political issue for (State Senator) Charles Perry, (State Rep.) Dustin Burrows and (State Rep.) John Frullo." She went on to state that the Lubbock City Council is non-partisan and a non-political body. "So, for (this issue) to end up with us [rather than the state legislature] is the wrong place," Councilwoman Joy also said.
Later on during her portion of her address to the body, Councilwoman Joy said, "I feel like the good citizens of Lubbock have been misled, and used, to attempt passage of this ordinance. It will not survive judicial review." She continued, "But until Roe v. Wade is overturned, or some other [federal] action is taken, it is the law."
Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said, "I don't believe that the regulation of abortion is a municipal issue. If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, then the Tenth Amendment dictates that abortion would be regulated at the state level."
After the mayor's comments, the council voted unanimously (7-0) to reject the proposed ordinance.
As previously stated, as part of the citizen petition process for proposing city ordinances, the proposed ordinance would move on to a vote of the citizens after being rejected by the city council. This vote would potentially occur in May 2021.