In even the most conservative corners of Texas, efforts to further restrict abortion are encountering resistance. Despite local officials supporting the state's strict abortion laws, they are expressing concerns about measures designed to crack down on abortion travel, particularly on Texas highways.
One recent example of this resistance unfolded in Llano, a town of around 3,400 people located in the Texas Hill Country. According to The Texas Tribune, the city council considered a proposal to make Llano the third city in Texas to outlaw what some anti-abortion activists call "abortion trafficking." This term refers to the act of transporting pregnant women on Texas roads to reach abortion clinics in other states, even though abortion is now illegal across Texas.
The citizens of Llano, like many in the deeply conservative region, are staunchly anti-abortion. However, when faced with the proposed ordinance, some local officials raised concerns about its potential impact on their community.
Laura Almond, a conservative city councilwoman and business owner in Llano, expressed reservations about the ordinance, despite her anti-abortion beliefs. She voiced concerns about the law's enforcement mechanism, which allows private citizens to sue anyone they suspect of violating the ordinance, potentially causing division within the community.
This pushback against the ordinance reflects a growing point of tension within the anti-abortion movement regarding how aggressively to restrict the procedure. While some conservatives advocate for even stricter measures to eradicate abortion, others fear potential political and practical repercussions, even in deeply conservative areas like Llano.
Mark Lee Dickson, an anti-abortion activist, was behind the effort to pass the ordinance in Llano. He argued that the law aimed to combat "abortion trafficking" by targeting those assisting women in crossing state lines for abortions, whether by providing transportation, funding, or support. The ordinance empowers individuals to sue those suspected of aiding in such activities.
Abortion rights advocates argue that these ordinances are primarily intended to intimidate people out of seeking abortions. To date, no one has been sued under similar "abortion trafficking" laws.
The push to restrict abortion in this manner is part of a broader strategy by anti-abortion advocates, aiming to block the main arteries leading out of Texas and keep pregnant women within the state. Several counties and cities in Texas have already passed similar ordinances, creating legal risks for those traveling on highways leading to states where abortion remains legal.
Despite resistance from some local officials, these measures are challenging to challenge in court due to their unique enforcement mechanisms. This situation presents a new point of contention in the post-Roe v. Wade debate among anti-abortion advocates regarding the extent to which abortion should be restricted.
In Llano, the city council ultimately voted to table the ordinance, postponing the decision for another time. While anti-abortion activists continue to push for its passage, Laura Almond's concerns about its potential consequences reflect the complexities and divisions within conservative communities regarding abortion restrictions.