Weeks after the councilmen of Waskom, Texas passed an ordinance establishing the small town as a “sanctuary city for the unborn” two billboards appeared nearby with the message: “Abortion is Freedom.”
The signs point to a website, needabortion.org, that has information on locations where abortions are performed.
“The Waskom City Council pulled a dangerous political stunt that was deliberately designed to shame and confuse patients seeking abortion care and to intimidate abortion funds and advocacy organizations like ours,” Amanda Beatriz, the executive director of Lilith Fund -- which provided some of the funding for the billboards -- told the Houston Chronicle.
The council ordinance prohibits abortions. There are no clinics in the town that perform an abortion, and town officials have vowed to keep it that way.
They describe the ordinance as a pre-emptive strike meant to deter clinics from considering moving into Waskom after Louisiana -- which is in close proximity -- signed a strict abortion law.
Waskom Mayor Jesse Moore sees the topic of abortion as moot.
“We have no intentions whatsoever to go [head] to head with anybody who opposes it,” he told the Washington Post. “As far as I’m concerned, we are done with the abortion clinic issue.”
He said he knows the city ordinance could be challenged in court.
The billboards have fueled debates about abortion in the town, and several media outlets said that the townspeople seem to generally support the ordinance.
Damon Anderson, a 60-year-old who has a daughter, told the Houston Chronicle that he can see the justification for an abortion if a female is the victim of incest or rape.
But, he added, “I wouldn’t necessarily want to see an abortion clinic in this town. I would hate to know that there are babies being killed across the street. But people have to go somewhere.”