The Edinburg City Council expressed support in declaring the city a “sanctuary city for the unborn” during a meeting last week.
As they were reading a proclamation that declared June 27 as “Prolife Apostolate Day,” Mayor Richard Molina and the city councilmen said they 100% supported the efforts of the Holy Family Prolife Apostolate to declare Edinburg an anti-abortion city.
“Whereas via this proclamation we respectfully request and petition the local governing body to consider maintaining the city of Edinburg as a sanctuary city for the unborn,” the proclamation Molina read aloud during the June 15 meeting stated in part.
“I want you to know as the mayor — and I’m only one vote, we vote as a team — but you do have my commitment that you will get this done,” Molina told the group after he finished reading the proclamation.
The three councilmen also threw their support behind the group.
“This is something we definitely need to address and we should be looking into, 100% behind it,” said Councilmember David White, who added that if he could vote on the issue now, he would. “There’s really not a lot that we can really say but we’ve got to push forward.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Jorge Salinas was also unequivocal in his support.
“I’d just like to commend you all on your group and your presence,” Salinas said. “I was not aware that there was a group that does this, much less here in the city of Edinburg, but my hat’s off to you all and your vigor in getting out and being proponents for this. I support you 100%.”
Lastly, Councilman Johnny Garcia also praised the group and went further by adding that he viewed the council as spiritual leaders.
“I just wanted to say that I personally hear these stories that you talked about every day as a funeral director and I actually worked a few years back with the state when they were trying to remove this abortion. I went up to the state capital to defend these unborn children so I know what it’s about,” Garcia said. “But the key thing is that as spiritual leaders of our community, as a council and the mayor, our job is also to pray for those children and also for the families, that the Lord continue to give us the strength and to battle for those kids that cannot speak for themselves.”
There are no women on the city council.
The council’s support for such action follows the city of Lubbock’s own abortion ban that went into effect June 1.
Voters in Lubbock approved an ordinance that outlawed abortions at any stage of pregnancy within the city and declared it unlawful for anyone to knowingly help someone obtain an abortion, such as providing transportation to an abortion provider or providing money for the procedure.
The ordinance makes exceptions for abortions performed to save the life of the mother, but does not make exceptions for pregnancies that were a result of rape or incest.
Though Lubbock was not the first city in the state to adopt such a ban, it is the largest city and the first that had an abortion provider within the city. There currently is no abortion provider within the city of Edinburg.
Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Lubbock to stop the abortion ban from taking effect, but a federal judge dismissed the suit, stating that they did not have standing to sue.
In addition to the possibility of enacting an abortion ban within Edinburg, the city appears to have violated its own policy by issuing the proclamation to the anti-abortion group in the first place.
The city’s website states that “proclamations are not issued for political organizations, campaigns, candidates, for-profit activities or to promote religious beliefs or individual conviction.”
City spokeswoman Ashly Custer characterized the policy as a guideline rather than a rule in the city charter and explained that the proclamation was placed on the agenda at the request of the council.
Councilmen did not respond to requests for comments on the issue.
As has become customary for Molina, the mayor said he was unavailable to answer questions when reached for comment Monday, and said he would call back in a few minutes. He never did and subsequent phone calls to him went unanswered.
Calls and messages left to Salinas and White have also gone unreturned, and contact information for Garcia was not immediately available Monday.
In a statement Monday, Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, reminded residents that abortion is still legal in Texas.
“Whole Woman’s Health of McAllen is open, and we are here for the Rio Grande Valley community – our staff live here and raise their families here, too,” she said. “We know Texans deserve better than attacks on their reproductive decision making and our clinic provides the compassionate, quality medical care people in the RGV have come to count on from Whole Woman’s Health.”