BROWNSBORO, Texas (KETK) – The City of Brownsboro voted on Monday evening to outlaw abortion. They are the 13th town in East Texas to do this in the past two years. A city council meeting was held at 5 p.m. at City Hall.

“Well today was amazing. We actually witnessed Brownsboro city council pass the ordinance to outlaw abortion,” said Joel Enge, a pro-life activist.

Several other East Texas towns have declared themselves as “Sanctuary Cities of the Unborn” recently.

The movement was started by Longview native Mark Dickson, the director of Right to Life East Texas. It began in June 2019 when Waskom became the first to pass such an ordinance.

Dickson said at the time that “we decided to take things into our own hands and that we have got to do something to protect our cities and to protect the unborn children.”

Dickson, the Director of Right To Life of East Texas, travels from city to city trying to convince council members to make their town anti-abortion. 

“This wasn’t the first city to consider this. 37 cities have outlawed abortion now. And so many of them have gone through this before they have wrestled with is this something that’s going to cost our citizens. Are we going to be boycotted and they have all found that this is something that is worth doing,” Dickson said. 

The ACLU initiated a lawsuit against Waskom in February 2020, but dropped it months later after the onset of the pandemic.

Several other towns and small communities passed similar ordinances:

Many city attorneys have agreed that these designations were unconstitutional and would all but certainly be struck down by courts if they were to be sued.

Lubbock voters passed a resolution in the May elections to block abortions in the city. The new ordinance was challenged in court by Planned Parenthood, but was dismissed by a federal judge due to lack of standing.

Abortion rights advocates typically sue to prevent government officials from enforcing an unconstitutional abortion restriction. But the Lubbock ordinance is solely enforced by private citizens, not state or local actors. That enforcement structure has not been extensively tested in the courts, but the judge said his rulings could not prevent private parties from filing civil lawsuits in state court.

Dickson is named in a lawsuit filed by several pro-choice groups that are attempting to block S.B. 8, the law created by State Sen. Bryan Hughes that outlaws nearly all abortions after six weeks. It also names 114th District Court Judge Austin Reeve Jackson and Smith County Clerk Penny Clarkson.

The law would empower any Texas citizen to file a lawsuit against a provider that is suspected of performing an illegal abortion.

One resident who came out for the ruling today, feels particularly passionate about the pro-life movement. 

Joel Enge says he is able to impact lives at his school, Kingdom Life Academy because his mother chose life. 

“My mother had me out of wedlock. My mother was struggling, single and poor. She could have chosen to abort me but because she chose not to kill me, now I am able to impact lives,” said Enge. 

Shannon Najmabidi with The Texas Tribune contributed to this report through her reporting on the Lubbock ordinance.