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Amarillo citizens turn in petition to advance Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance

Last week, Amarillo residents turned in signatures through a citizen initiative to advance a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance.

On Thursday, April 25, the Amarillo Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance Initiating Committee brought petitions with 10,322 signatures to the city secretary. The group began gathering petition signatures on December 29.

To be successful, the citizens must present signatures representing not less than 5 percent — or 5,761— of registered voters who are Amarillo residents.

Robin Ross helped gather and verify petition signatures. She said that the group was able to validate at least 7,417 of the signatures based on voter roll information.

A valid citizen initiative petition forces the city council to vote on the ordinance, Sanctuary City for the Unborn Initiative founder Mark Lee Dickson said of the process. If they don’t pass it, then it will go to the voters in November.

Ross hopes the city council will see the support within the city and vote to adopt the ordinance. She said she’s not afraid of a ballot vote in November but wants the protections for the unborn to be in place as soon as possible. Lubbock residents voted to adopt a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance in 2021.

The ordinance effort is personal for Ross, who said she is the survivor of her mother’s failed abortion attempt. She said her faith as a Christian also propels her to be involved because she believes “abortion is murder.”

Even though Texas has the Heartbeat Act and other laws in place that prevent abortion, Ross believes the proposed ordinance fills gaps regarding abortion trafficking and the handling of fetal remains.

It not only outlaws abortion in Amarillo but also makes aiding and abetting an elective abortion unlawful.

The proposal would also outlaw abortion trafficking, stating, “[I]t shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly transport any individual for the purpose of providing or obtaining an elective abortion, regardless of where the elective abortion will occur.”

Supporters of the Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance have also expressed concern that healthcare waste management company BioCycle may be participating in the disposal of fetal remains from abortions that take place outside of Texas.

The ordinance addresses this by making it unlawful for any person “to transport the remains of an unborn child who was killed by an elective abortion from any abortion provider into the city of Amarillo, or to dispose of such remains from any abortion provider within the city of Amarillo.”

Similar to the Heartbeat Act, the proposed Amarillo ordinance contains a private enforcement mechanism that allows any person who is not an official or employee of the City of Amarillo to bring a private cause of action for a violation of the ordinance, rather than requiring enforcement by government agents.

According to a letter accompanying the citizen petition delivered to Amarillo’s city secretary, Amarillo residents have been trying to get a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance passed since 2021.

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