The city of Waskom recently earned special recognition at Right to Life of East Texas’ Celebrate Life Banquet, receiving the Pro-Life Leadership Award for being the first in the country to become a sanctuary city for the unborn.

“At our Celebrate Life Banquet, Right to Life of East Texas honored the mayor and city council of Waskom, Texas, for their role in being the first city in the nation to outlaw abortion within their city limits,” said Mark Lee Dickson, director of Right to Life of East Texas and founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative.

Dickson noted that, in June 2019, the city of Waskom became the first city in the nation to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within its city limits. Since Waskom passed its ordinance, a total of 24 other cities throughout Texas, now counting Lubbock, and two cities in the Nebraska have followed suit, he said.

“Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Tyler Diocese praised their action and expressed a desire in seeing cities throughout East Texas, including the cities of Tyler and Athens, follow in their footsteps,” said Dickson.

According to Right to Life East Texas, not only has the action of Waskom City Council led other cities following in their lead, but their action has also resulted in the Republican Party of Texas adopting “cities passing enforceable ordinances outlawing abortion” as an official part of the Republican Party Platform, and impacted state legislation in Texas, as well.

Dickson reflected on the city of Lubbock’s recent decision to outlaw abortion, questioning the delay with other cities.

“If Lubbock can outlaw abortion what is stopping cities like Poynor, Lindale, Athens, and Tyler?” – Dickson asked.

According to the Texas Tribune, residents in Lubbock voted, on Saturday, to back a “sanctuary city for the unborn” ordinance that aims to outlaw abortions in the city limits.

“The unofficial vote, 62% for and 38% against the measure, comes less than a year after Planned Parenthood opened a clinic in Lubbock and months after the City Council rejected the ordinance on legal grounds and warned it could tee up a costly court fight,” the Tribune’s website,, reported.

Dickson told the News Messenger Sunday that his organization is grateful that the voters of Lubbock turned out with overwhelming support.

“We are grateful that the voters of Lubbock voted so overwhelmingly to outlaw abortion and affirm the sanctity of human life,” he said. “We congratulate everyone who worked so hard to pass this ordinance and produce such a strong turnout for this historic election. Planned Parenthood and its supporters also worked hard to get their supporters to the polls, and we congratulate them on their efforts. Now that the voters have spoken, we expect Planned Parenthood to respect the outcome of this election and cease providing abortions at its Lubbock clinic.”

Dickson served as the keynote speaker for the 2021 Celebrate Life Banquet, which was held at Infinity Event Center in Longview.

According to his bio, Dickson is a Texas born and raised pro-life activist who fights for the rights of all human beings from conception till natural death. Dickson and his pro-life activism, seeking to defend the lives of the unborn and those who are medically vulnerable in hospitals has been featured in various news outlets globally, including Fox News, CNN, Washington Post, Huffington Post, and the New York Times.

“Dickson is, perhaps, best known for leading twenty-five cities across the United States in the passing of enforceable ordinances outlawing abortion within their city limits,” Right to Life of East Texas noted.

In addition not the city of Waskom, honored Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Tyler Diocese as the Outstanding Pro-Life Person of the Year.

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