City council meetings in East Texas address typical small-town issues, such as road contract approvals, tree removal and street closures for fall festivals and high school homecoming parades.
But a far more controversial agenda item has been appearing in this deeply conservative region of rural America: abortion.
Labeling it “murder with malice,” a growing number of town councils have been passing abortion bans and declaring themselves “sanctuary cities for the unborn.” Five towns have adopted the restrictive ordinance, which outlaws emergency contraception such as Plan B, criminalizes reproductive rights groups and fines doctors $2,000 for performing the procedure. A sixth East Texas town has adopted a more lenient version of the ordinance.
The activist behind the movement, Mark Lee Dickson, said he and antiabortion group Texas Right to Life plan to travel to more than 400 Texas municipalities to pitch the ban.