LOVINGTON — Lovington could be the next community to make it difficult for abortion providers to operate after copies of ordinances passed in Hobbs, Lea County and Clovis designating them sanctuary cities for the unborn were given to Commissioners on Monday to review as the city works toward drafting its own ordinance.
Lovington City manager Vidal Martinez handed out the packets to the commission and advised them to contact him with comments or suggestions. He said he hoped to have the ordinance included on the agenda as an action item for the next commission meeting.
Mayor Howard “Robbie” Roberts addressed Lea County Commissioner Dean Jackson, who was in the audience, regarding the county’s status in passing an ordinance on abortion.
“We have it out for publication for 30 days, and hope to act on it at the first meeting in January,” said Jackson.
Mark Lee Dickson, director for Right to Life of East Texas, was also present at the commission meeting.
“Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn helped to pave the way of the Texas Heartbeat Law,” said Dickson.
The Texas Heartbeat Act works through enforcement by private individuals through civil lawsuits rather than having state officials enforce the law with criminal or civil penalties. The act authorizes members of the public to sue anyone who performs or facilitates an illegal abortion for a minimum of $10,000 in statutory damages per abortion, plus court costs and attorneys’ fees.
Dickson said the ordinances passed out to the commission were good to review for information, but he encouraged them to consider an ordinance he sent, drafted with the help of Johnathan F. Mitchell, an attorney in Texas who worked on the Heartbeat Act.
The commissioners said they had not seen that draft and Roberts said legal had it.
“The ordinances you have are for different municipalities,” Dickson said. “You need one that is more appropriate for your city’s form of government.”
Dickson said the commission needs to make sure any ordinance they adopt works within the confines of the state.
“Since Texas passed laws on abortion, abortion businesses are fleeing our state,” said Dickson. “Our hearts are heavy for these communities on the Texas boarder. In some ways we feel like we blew the abortion issue into our neighbors yard.”
Whole Women’s Health, an abortion provider that closed practices in Texas, has been rumored to be looking at properties in New Mexico towns bordering Texas.
“No one likes it when a neighbor blows leaves or trash into their yard. We are here to help you clean it up,” said Dickson.
Commissioner David Trujillo thanked Dickson for his hard work in this area.
“Despite what our Governor said, I do not view you as a religious extremist, or however she worded it,” said Roberts. “So far, I think you have handled it well.”