Joe Pojman, executive director of the anti-abortion advocacy group Texas Alliance for Life, said he would not advise a local government to pass an ordinance like Joaquin’s.“It’s not well-drafted, and it may not survive a court challenge,” he said. “We just don’t think a court is going to uphold a right to bring a civil lawsuit for an action that the Supreme Court has held to be a constitutional right.”
A more productive outlet for anti-abortion activists, Pojman said, would be to “concentrate on reelecting pro-life incumbents at the state level and to concentrate on reelecting Donald Trump,” who may have the opportunity to appoint additional conservative justices to the high court.
That approach isn’t satisfactory to Mark Lee Dickson, the East Texas activist, pastor and sometimes fireworks salesman who has traveled the state to encourage more than 40 local governments to pass similar ordinances to Joaquin’s. So far, the towns of Waskom, Omaha and Naples have done so; Gilmer opted to pass a version that does not criminalize emergency contraception.
Many city councils “really don’t want a business that murders innocent children on a regular basis,” Dickson, 34, said. “They’re against the mass murders we see in school shootings, and they’re against the mass murders we see of equal number in these abortion clinics.”
He’s set his sights on a long list of towns across East and North Texas and says many have agreed to consider their own ordinance.
In July, the city council of Mineral Wells rejected a version of the ordinance, reportedly because of lawsuit concerns.
Pojman echoed those concerns, pointing to a federal judge’s decision this summer to award $2.3 million in attorneys’ fees to the Center for Reproductive Rights in a long-running Texas case over a sweeping anti-abortion law that the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately struck down.
“That’s money for the other side, which is a setback and bad precedent,” Pojman said.