Rusk adopts sanctuary ordinance in 3-2 vote

by Josie Fox and Cristin Parker

It was standing room only during the Rusk City Council meeting on Thursday night as citizens and member of the Right to Life of East Texas group waited for their opportunity to address the council in regards to agenda item naming Rusk as a sanctuary city for the unborn.

The item passed with a 3-2 vote with councilmen Martin Holesome, District 3; Walter Session, District 2 and Ben Middlebrooks, District 1 voting in favor of the ordinance and councilwomen Martha Neely, District 4 and Frances Long, District 5 voting in opposition.

The adopted ordinance will put in place an unenforceable law prohibiting an abortion clinic from establishing a facility within the city limits in Rusk. The ordinance states that any organization that performs abortions or assists others in obtaining abortions will be declared a criminal organization. However, based on the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade in 1973 and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the ordinance cannot be enforced by the City of Rusk, county or district attorneys, or any state or local governmental entity.

If the Supreme Court ever overrules Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, it will be at that point any person or organization committing an unlawful act under the ordinance will be subject to the maximum penalty under Texas law for the violation of municipal ordinance governing public health, and each violation shall constitute a sperate offence.

The Right to Life of East Texas group fought for the ordinance to deter any organization from establishing a clinic in Rusk due to potential criminal penalties.

*Editor’s note: an in-depth follow up for the ordinance will be in the Jan. 15 issue of the Cherokeean.