City of Alvin votes down proposal to be ‘sanctuary city for the unborn’ ordinance that would ban abortions

Some council members say ordinance was written poorly

Here's what we know:

ALVIN – Leaders from the city of Alvin will consider a proposed ordinance that would ban abortions entirely, designating the city as a sanctuary city for the unborn. It was voted down Wednesday evening with all ‘No’s’ except for the vote of the councilman who led the effort with Texas Right to Life.

“I think it’s necessary because our obligation as a government, any form of government, especially local government, is to protect rights, right? And to provide safety,” said Joel Castro, city councilor At-Large 2.

Castro, along with fellow city councilman Richard Garivey, requested that the item be placed on the council’s agenda for consideration. Castro said doing so is a proactive move in an otherwise pro-life city.

“Being pro-life has always been near and dear to me, it’s something that translates in values from my parents and grandparents,” Castro said.

Wednesday night at city council, the room was packed with Alvin residents and supporters of the ordinance. Residents and supporters spoke at what turned out to be a very emotional public comment with residents sharing their personal stories as to why they believe abortions should be banned.

“Mother Theresa said, ‘Abortion has been the greatest destroyer of peace because it destroys two lives: the life of the unborn child and the mother,’” Lela Hoffmann, a 20+year resident of Alvin, said.

If approved, Alvin would have become the 39th city in Texas to adopt an ordinance outright banning abortions. It comes after state legislators passed the Texas Heartbeat Act in 2021, which bans abortions at the point at which a heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks.

“Hopefully, we get this passed, by God’s grace, and we get to do some good things in Alvin,” he said.

The proposed ordinance, some 18 pages total, was drafted by Texas Right to Life. The measure cites Texas court cases that say abortion is not a lawful medical procedure.

If approved, it would also prohibit abortion-inducing drugs within city limits.

The ordinance would establish penalties for those who may aid in abortions.

It also calls on Brazoria County’s district attorney to prosecute those caught aiding and abetting.

But there aren’t any abortion clinics in Alvin – or near it.

Castro says that’s not the point – nor does he think his stance is political.

“If you believe that protecting an innocent life, the life of the unborn is a political stance, then you’re just flat out wrong,” he said.

However, critics in Alvin who disagree pointed to the fact that the city council is comprised solely of men. They questioned whether women were taken into consideration when drafting the proposed ordinance.

“I say it’s unfair for somebody to try to control the woman’s body. It is left up to the woman, whatever she decides to do and what she wants to do,” said Rosa Obershowe, an Alvin resident.

Gay Anderson, another resident, agreed.

“There are reasons to do it. There are reasons not to do it. But it’s still her choice, her life, and she lives with it,” she said.

Castro said he spoke to many women in the community about the matter, turning to them for insight.

“I’ve talked to more women than I have men about this issue, and so, I know talking to them that they’re in support of it just like anyone else, they’re encouraging us to get it passed,” he said.

Deputy director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes Drucilla Tigner argued the proposal is illegal on at least two fronts: Roe v. Wade is one of them.

“We have a current law on the books that bans abortion at six weeks gestation, but that is the threshold in Texas right now,” she said, criticizing the measure as a waste of taxpayer money considering there are no abortion clinics that exist in Alvin.

Castro said the ordinance would offer an exception to a woman whose health may be at risk. He also said he planned to introduce an amendment during Thursday’s city council meeting to include women who were raped.

“Talking with other people and getting their insight, we decided, ‘Let’s add this amendment,’” he said. “I think everyone should be able to have an open mind, right? And so, just talking with people, talking with my constituents, seeing what we’re able to do, I felt that was something that should be added, and so we’re working on that right now.”

Ultimately, Wednesday night, the Mayor and the majority of councilmembers agreed that the ordinance was written poorly and could not be approved.

“This ordinance is illegal on its face. It’s not written properly,” Mayor Paul Horn said.

“Despite agree with the sentiment here tonight, and how brave it was. the ordinance itself lacks a lot of teeth and I think it requires a lot more review,” Keko Moore, Councilmember, said.

Attendees of the meeting mentioned they were interested in following up when and if the ordinance was re-written.

About the Author:

Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. NOLA born and bred, though #HoustonStrong, with stops in Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in along the way.