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Voters will decide in November if Abilene becomes a Sanctuary City for the Unborn

Abilene City Council meetings are streamed on the City of Abilene website.
City of Abilene
Abilene City Council meetings are streamed on the City of Abilene website.

The Abilene City Council spent hours listening to citizens speak in favor on the proposal to make Abilene a Sanctuary City for the Unborn at today’s meeting. Ultimately council members were narrowly divided when it was time to vote.

The Abilene City Council had three options, a “yes" vote, a “no” vote, or a vote to place the ordinance on the November ballot. Officials expedited the reading of the 18-page ordinance by playing a recorded version. It outlaws surgical or medication-induced abortion within Abilene as well as assistance given to someone seeking abortion outside of the city. There are exceptions for the health or life of the mother. It also stipulates that birth control, contraception, Plan-B, or emergency contraception are not considered abortions.

State Senator Charles Perry encouraged the council members to take decisive action-and consider their legacy, "Proverbs teaches me that the fear of God is the first step toward wisdom. I have a healthy fear that we will all answer for this. I hope you can do the right thing. You’ll be supported in it. It’s just the right thing for all reasons. But what kind of legacy do you as individuals want to be remembered for?”

Only one community member expressed concern that passing the ordinance would open the city to legal liability. Dozens of others filled the room and spilled into the hall, waiting to urge the council to vote yes, sharing emotional personal stories, pointing to similar ordinances passed in other cities, and reading Bible verses.

Retired nurse Michelle Taliaferro is married to an Abilene doctor and spoke of concerns doctors already have because of Texas’ new law effectively banning abortion after six weeks into a pregnancy, “These concerns, while valid, they are going to have to deal with them one way or the other, and especially if we have to take this vote to the citizens in November, then it will pass and the doctors are going to have to face these issues."

Mark Lee Dickson, founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative, made a political argument, calling Taylor County a very red area, noting more than 71% voted for Donald Trump in 2020, “We had a proposition statement on the March ballot, and that was about, 'Should there be constitutional amendment in support of life at the beginning, at conception?' And that number, among Republican primary voters was 86.17% in Taylor County.”

Council member Weldon Hurt noted the preponderance of voices in favor of the ordinance-but pointed out council members have also heard opposition, “We do get emails. There are people opposed, and they’re not going to show up in this room because the one person that was opposed was chastised. But I would admit that there’s not as many opposed on those emails, but they’re not going to show up in this room. So I just want to give them voice.” Hurt concluded his comments by praising the proponents for collecting 7,042 verified signatures.

Council member Donna Albus also praised the passion of those who advocated for the ordinance and encouraged them to use that passion to provide for children who need homes in Abilene, “Surely to goodness somewhere there are 800 households that will take the unwanted children that we already have walking our streets.”

Albus noted Taylor County has to send two-thirds of its foster children to homes in other areas, “And that’s just not right. If we’re going to support them in being born, we need to certainly support them after they’re walking on our earth.”

When Mayor Anthony Williams asked for a motion, council member Kyle McAlister, who’s up for reelection next week, quickly made a motion to move the issue to the November ballot, and Council member Travis Craver, who is also on the May 7th ballot, seconded.

Voting yes were McAlister, Craver, Beard, Albus.
Voting no were Price, Hurt, Williams.

The room was silent after the vote. Abilene voters will decide in November whether the city will join more than 40 Texas cities that have declared themselves Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn .

Heather Claborn joined KACU as news director in January 2018. She oversees daily newscast and feature reporting and works with KACU’s news anchors to develop newscasts. She also conducts two-way interviews, reports for newscast and feature stories and maintains the station’s social media and website content. In 2020, Claborn helped staff develop the daily newsletter that is delivered by email.