Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas (PPGT) said Tuesday that it is no longer providing abortion services in its Lubbock clinic, coinciding with a “sanctuary city” ordinance that took effect on June 1.
The “sanctuary city for the unborn” ordinance, which outlaws abortion in Lubbock, was approved on May 1. Sixty-two percent of voters in Lubbock, a city of about 250,000 people in northwest Texas, backed the measure, while just under 38 percent voted against it, according to data from the Lubbock County Elections Office.
PPGT CEO Ken Lambrecht said in a statement Tuesday that abortion services will be provided “when legally possible.”
“Lubbock residents are currently required to travel to access a safe, legal abortion,” PPGT said, reported news outlet Everything Lubbock. “This ban on abortions provides no exemptions, even in cases of rape and incest. The ban on abortion violates patients’ constitutional right to an abortion, and we’re in court to block this ban for Lubbock patients.”
“The Lubbock abortion ban creates significant barriers and the need to travel a minimum 600-mile round trip or out of state for patients seeking to obtain an abortion,” he added.
PPGT on May 17 filed a lawsuit against the city of Lubbock over the ordinance, arguing that it will violate women’s constitutional rights to seek an abortion. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
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 the family member of any woman who has an abortion to sue the provider or anyone who assisted.
It comes as Republican-led states are weighing or have proposed bills aimed at limiting abortions such as “heartbeat bills,” which ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually at around six weeks of pregnancy.
Many of these bills have led to a series of legal challenges in courts. These states are hoping that the lawsuits could be a vehicle to challenge Roe v. Wade, which classifies the right to choose to have an abortion as “fundamental,” in the Supreme Court. Several courts across the country have already invalidated the “heartbeat bill.”
Janita Kan and Reuters contributed to this report.