The strategy of bringing the abortion fight to the local level has divided even the staunchest anti-abortion activists. Some groups, including the Texas Alliance for Life, have warned against taking an inflammatory approach that is unlikely to survive a legal contest and could set the anti-abortion movement back in court.
Joe Pojman, director of the Texas Alliance for Life, cautioned that the ordinances could invite lawsuits that will not stand unless the high court overturns Roe. He noted the spread of sanctuary cities for the unborn stands to “embolden opponents of pro-life laws” during an election year: “We need to stay focused on ensuring Roe v. Wade is overturned. … The most astute political observers agree that Texas is in play.”
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 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 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.
While Dickson’s push is supported by one of Texas’ two biggest anti-abortion groups, Texas Right to Life, the other, Texas Alliance for Life, believes their cause would be better served by pushing for legislative action and making sure America’s courts continue to be stacked with conservative judges.
“We are encouraging grassroots citizens to concentrate on reelecting pro-life members to the Texas Legislature who will pass a total ban on abortion, triggered by the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned,” said Joe Pojman, Texas Alliance for Life executive director. “We also want grassroots to concentrate on reelecting President Donald Trump. Trump has a proven track record of nominating federal judges who will take an honest lo at Roe v. Wade and reevaluating that awful decision.”
Texas Alliance for Life Executive Director Joe Pojman said voters need to continue voting pro-life politicians into office.
“What we’re really encouraging grass roots to concentrate on is re-electing pro-life members to the Texas Legislature because we want to pass a total ban on abortion, triggered by the events that Roe versus Wade is overturned. A trigger ban on abortion,” said Pojman. “We also want grass roots to concentrate on re-electing President Donald Trump because Trump has a proven track record of nominating federal judges who will take an honest lo at Roe versus Wade and re-evaluating that awful decision.”
Not only did the court battle cost the state millions of dollars, but it also set back the anti-abortion movement by making it harder for states to pass certain regulations for abortion facilities without running afoul of the high court’s decision, said Joe Pojman, executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life which advocates for stiffer abortion regulations.
Anti-abortion advocates had miscalculated the leanings of the Supreme Court, he said. Since then, he said his group has resisted the urge to support far-reaching anti-abortion proposals in the Legislature in favor of others they believe would survive a federal court challenge.
Pojman said anti-abortion advocates need to think long-term if they want to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established legal precedent protecting a woman’s right to an abortion. The long-time activist said he is not confident the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court is favorable to overturning Roe v. Wade — but it could be in a few years.
“We are telling our people that they need to stay focused on re-electing President Donald Trump because he has a track record of nominating justices who are possibly willing to take an honest lo at Roe v. Wade,” said Pojman.