The American Civil Liberties Union announced Tuesday it had filed a lawsuit to challenge abortion ban ordinances passed in seven East Texas cities.
The city of Waskom is listed in the lawsuit, along with Gary, Naples, Joaquin, Tenaha, Rusk and Wells. All seven cities had passed some version of an ordinance pushed by Right to Life East Texas.
The city of Waskom approved its ordinance in June 2019, becoming Texas’ first “sanctuary city for the unborn.”
For the lawsuit, the ACLU is representing two abortion funds, the Lilith Fund and the Texas Equal Access Fund. Both groups are labeled “criminal entities” under the abortion ordinances. The lawsuit filed Tuesday says the ordinances violate those groups’ rights to free expression and association under the First Amendment.
“These ordinances are unconstitutional,” said Anjali Salvador, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas. “Abortion is legal in every state and city in the country. Cities cannot punish pro-abortion organizations for carrying out their important work — especially when they do so in a way that violates the First Amendment.”
Kamyon Connor, executive director for the Texas Equal Access Fund, said the ordinances were a tactic for abortion opponents to score political points.
“Access to reproductive care including abortion, which is still legal, allows individuals and families to receive the support needed to thrive in our state,” she said. “Texas Equal Access Fund is proud to help people access abortion care and we will fight to protect our ability to continue doing this necessary work.”
When called for comment on the lawsuit, Gary Mayor Mark Thornton directed the Watchman to Right to Life East Texas director Mark Lee Dickson.
Dickson, on Tuesday, said the ACLU has represented the KKK and Nazis, and in this case representing two groups who “support the murder of innocent children.”
“So the only way that’s appropriate to respond to groups like that — we have to remember who we are,” he said. “We’re Texans. We have two phrases here in Texas that we hold near and dear to our heart and that is ‘Don’t tread on me’ and ‘Don’t mess with Texas.’ If they think that they can throw their weight around and intimidate these cities, they’ve got another thing coming because the people I’ve talked to, they have the mentality that they’re going to fight and that we’re going to win this and that we’re going to stand for what matters most to us, which is our children.”