In a victory for the pro-life movement, Planned Parenthood has dropped a lawsuit against the largest sanctuary city for the unborn in the United States.
On Thursday, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services, an affiliate of the largest abortion provider in the country, filed a motion to dismiss its lawsuit against the city of Lubbock, Texas, the most populous sanctuary city for the unborn in the U.S. In a referendum last year, Lubbock residents voted to outlaw abortion within the city limits, making the West Texas city of more than 250,000 people the largest “sanctuary city for the unborn” in the nation.
Planned Parenthood filed the lawsuit against the city of Lubbock in May 2021, about two weeks after a supermajority of the city’s residents (62.5%) voted in favor of a referendum that made it “unlawful for any person to procure or perform an abortion of any type and at any stage of pregnancy” within the city limits.
The motion to dismiss the lawsuit comes several months after a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division, upheld the ban, alleging that Planned Parenthood lacked the jurisdiction to file the lawsuit. Like the Texas Heartbeat Act that has found itself in litigation since taking effect in September, the Lubbock abortion ban leaves enforcement of the measure up to private citizens instead of city officials.
Planned Parenthood initially appealed the lower court decision but has now decided to pursue a new course of action by dropping the appeal. Attorneys for Planned Parenthood cited the lower court decision in their motion to dismiss and noted that Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 42(b) and Circuit Rule 42.1 gave them the right to do so. The rule states: “The circuit court may dismiss a docketed appeal if the parties file a signed dismissal agreement specifying how costs are to be paid and pay any fees that are due.”
Additionally, the rule establishes that “No mandate or other process may issue without a court order. An appeal may be dismissed on the appellant’s motion on terms agreed to by the parties or fixed on the court.” Planned Parenthood’s attorneys explained that both the plaintiffs and defendants in the case agreed that “the parties will bear their own costs for this appeal and for the proceedings in the court,” adding “no additional fees are due.”
The motion to dismiss the appeal was filed one day before the 49th annual March for Life, where pro-life protesters gathered in Washington, D.C., expressed optimism that Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, would soon be weakened or overturned when the justices rule on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.
Pro-life leaders in Texas cheered the apparent conclusion to the litigation against Lubbock’s pro-life ordinance.
Mark Lee Dickson, president of Right to Life of East Texas and the leading advocate for creating Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, reacted to the motion to dismiss in a Facebook post. “We have said from the beginning that the abortion bans we have drafted are bulletproof from court challenge, and we are pleased that the litigation over Lubbock’s ordinance has proven us right. We will continue our work to enact similar ordinances in other cities throughout the United States,” he vowed.
Dustin Burrows, a Republican who represents Lubbock in the Texas House of Representatives, described Planned Parenthood’s dropping of the appeal as “a major and historic victory for the right to life.” He rejoiced that the move will guarantee “that the ordinance will remain in effect.”
Pro-Life Victory!— Dustin Burrows (@Burrows4TX) January 21, 2022
In a major and historic victory for the right to life, Planned Parenthood is dropping its lawsuit over the city of Lubbock’s abortion ban, ensuring that the ordinance will remain in effect! #txlege#prolife#sanctuarycityfortheunbornpic.twitter.com/SrGsx1GlTD
Texas state Sen. Charles Perry, a Republican who represents Lubbock, issued a statement congratulating “the city and the people of Lubbock on this historic victory — and for becoming the first jurisdiction in the United States to successfully defend an abortion ban in court since Roe v. Wade.”
After praising the development as “the answer to so many of our prayers,” he further reflected on the role the city of Lubbock and the state of Texas have played in the pro-life movement over the past year.
“With the Texas Heartbeat Act taking effect last September, and with Lubbock having outlawed abortion within city limits, the state of Texas is leading the way on protecting the unborn despite the continued existence of Roe v. Wade. Texas and Lubbock have shown how states and cities can ban or restrict abortion while immunizing their laws from pre-enforcement judicial review. I encourage other cities in Texas and throughout the United States to adopt similar ordinances.”
There are currently 41 sanctuary cities for the unborn in the U.S., with all but three of them located in Texas. Nebraska has two sanctuary cities for the unborn, while Ohio has one.