Can Sanctuary Cities Energize the Future of the Pro-Life Movement?

Can Sanctuary Cities Energize the Future of the Pro-Life Movement?
Can Sanctuary Cities Energize the Future of the Pro-Life Movement?

On May 1, 2021, the voters of Lubbock. Texas voted 62% to 38% to declare their city a “sanctuary city for the unborn.”

A Triumph

Rightist media, for the most part, heralded the news. The Federalist presented a triumphant tone.

“Despite opposition from Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion activists’ attempts to stifle pro-life support in the area by pouring outside money into the election, coordinating with law enforcement to oust conservative activists at the March for Life rally, feigning endorsements against the proposal from local news outlets, and stealing ‘vote for life’ yard signs from churches and homes, the proposition passed in a landslide victory with more than 21,400 votes to stop killing unborn babies within city limits.”

This is good news for the pro-life movement.

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According to the pollsters at the Gallup Organization, America splits evenly on the abortion issue, with 48 percent identifying as “pro-choice” and 46 percent as “pro-life.” However, conservatives were 77 to 19 percent pro-life, and liberals were almost exactly opposite, 78 to 17 percent pro-choice.

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The sanctuary city strategy presents a fresh challenge to the pro-abortion crowd. While the nation is almost evenly split, many localities have solid conservative majorities. If a hundred cities in diverse parts of the country adopt sanctuary city status, it defies the left’s assertion that Roe v. Wade is “settled law.”

How Will the Left Handle This?

The left’s reaction to the Lubbock landslide was confused. Many leftist sources could not decide how or if they should cover the story. The pro-life side turned the sanctuary city idea against the left since the original idea was to use it to promote illegal immigration.

The New York Times (“All the news that’s fit to print”) did not cover the referendum. Lubbock is not too small a place for them to notice it. The paper carried stories on Lubbock and COVID-19 on July 4, 2020, January 21, and April 21, 2021.

Feigning ignorance can be risky, especially as the movement gains steam. As CBS News points out:

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“The ordinance makes Lubbock the largest U.S. city to outlaw abortion, says CBS Lubbock affiliate KLBK-TV. Including Lubbock, 24 cities in Texas and two in Nebraska passed similar ordinances, pro-life activist and Right to Life East Texas Director Mark Lee Dickson told the station, adding that Lubbock is the only town with an active abortion clinic to pass the ordinance.”

Three Flavors of Derision

The Dallas Observer took another direction by ridiculing Christian values. The Washington Post presented it as a right-wing temper tantrum – an uninformed populace that overruled wiser elected representatives. Identical verbiage appeared in The Seattle Times.

“Last year, officials in Lubbock, Tex., unanimously rejected an ordinance banning abortions and declaring the municipality a “sanctuary city for the unborn.” Members of the city council, including some who stressed that they vehemently oppose abortion, said during an emotionally charged, six-hour public hearing the measure was unconstitutional and unenforceable.

“Now, six months later, residents of the conservative west Texas city have passed the ordinance themselves.”

The Dallas Morning News labeled Lubbock’s action impossible before moving on to a more detailed discussion of a vote concerning the city of Austin’s homelessness situation.

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“Those arguing against the local ordinance say it is unconstitutional and unenforceable. The Lubbock City Council said it was unconstitutional when the seven members unanimously voted it down. It’s on the ballot by way of a citizen-led petition. Many local officials there believe that if it passes, lawsuits will follow.”

A Looming Legal Battle

All these liberal media bastions cited Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union as representing their values. Most used some variation of the same two quotations.

“We are committed to expanding access to abortion and will provide abortion services when possible in Lubbock,” Sarah Wheat, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said. “We want Lubbock residents to know: Our doors are open and we will continue to advocate for our patients, no matter what.”

“The ACLU has a long history of challenging unconstitutional abortion bans and will continue to fight to protect the fundamental rights of the people of Lubbock,” Drucilla Tigner, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas, said.

Both the ACLU and Planned Parenthood will probably fight the growing number of sanctuary cities in court.

Can it Work Long-Term?

The pro-life victory puts the left on the defensive since they cannot defend the idea of sanctuary cities for immigration without including the other cities that ban abortion.

While Federal supremacy over state and local law has been a constant ever since the Civil War, making the legal status of sanctuary cities for the unborn weak, this new pro-life strategy grabs people’s attention. Accordingly, it is of great help in the broader Culture War, in the war for hearts and minds.

All the avenues point to a likely Supreme Court decision. Presumably, the Court has a pro-life majority. However, pro-life and marriage supporters have often been disappointed by conservative betrayals on key issues. In 1991, pro-lifers had real hope a more conservative Supreme Court might use Planned Parenthood v. Casey to overturn Roe v. Wade. The eventual decision was wrenching.

Could the Court sidestep the abortion issue altogether and use Lubbock’s situation to rule on the idea of sanctuary cities? Yes, they could, and experience shows that it probably will. However, it is hard to see how SCOTUS could sanction them for illegal immigrants while outlawing them for the innocent unborn. So even in the Courts, the strategy has great merit.

A Direction Worth Taking

While the Lubbock initiative may not directly lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade or the banning of abortion it helps break the momentum of the pro-abortion position, which is under attack from many other angles.  This is another of the strategy’s merits. Lt. Gen. George Patton’s victorious strategy was one of relentless attack, one that kept his enemy always off balance.

Indeed, the left thrives on momentum, and obstacles have a braking effect. Between 1980 and 2008, the word “liberal,” for example, almost passed out of use because that label became so toxic. Presidents Clinton, Obama and Biden were elected by pretending to be more “centrist” than they were.

Therefore, any strategy that delays the march of the progressives is valuable. In this respect, “sanctuary cities for the unborn” could help save many unborn babies.

However, pro-lifers must remember that the ultimate success depends on God. Only a return to God and a showering of His grace on America will end the scourge of abortion. While no one should abandon political options, only a concerted appeal to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother for aid in the culture war will prevail.