LUBBOCK, Texas, May 18 (Reuters) – Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas has filed a lawsuit against the city of Lubbock over an abortion ban voters approved earlier this month.
Planned Parenthood says in the lawsuit that the “sanctuary city for the unborn” ordinance will infringe on women’s constitutional right to seek an abortion. The lawsuit was filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
The complaint came on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court said it would take up a major challenge to the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. In that case, Mississippi seeks to revive a Republican-backed state law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
In Lubbock, voters on May 1 passed the ordinance banning abortion with nearly 63% of electors approving it.
The city, home to some 260,000 people, was the 25th such “sanctuary city” – all but two in Texas – to have banned abortions in the last two years. The ban will take effect on June 1.
Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit said that women’s reproductive care needs are underserved in the Lubbock area. According to the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood has so far provided only medication abortions at a clinic it opened last year in Lubbock. The nearest Planned Parenthood clinic that provides a wider range of abortions is 300 miles away in Fort Worth, the lawsuit said.
The Lubbock ordinance bans abortion in all cases except when a woman’s life is in danger. It also allows any private citizen of Texas and also the family member of any woman who has an abortion to sue the provider or anyone who assisted.
Abortion fights at the local level have heated up since the Supreme Court attained a 6-3 conservative majority under former President Donald Trump. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion would be governed by state and local law.
The Texas legislature this month approved five bills restricting abortion – including one that would ban abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks in some pregnancies.
Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign those bills into law in the coming days. (Reporting by Brad Brooks; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)