Lubbock and Evanston: Pro-Life, Slow Death
As reported by Breitbart, in early June a U.S. District Court judge dismissed a Planned Parenthood/ACLU lawsuit against the city of Lubbock, Texas. The lawsuit, which opens with “The Constitution of the United States guarantees the right to have an abortion,” claims that Lubbock, being a self-declared “sanctuary city for the unborn,” is preventing women from terminating a pregnancy.
The judge dismissed the lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds, without prejudice. But he ought to have thrown it out of court on the merits, not on a procedural technicality. The Constitution does no such thing as guarantee a right to abortion. It does not contain the word “abortion” (or “pregnancy” or “fetus” or “conception” or “baby” or “sperm” or “ovum”) and makes no mention whatsoever of gestation or the in utero dismemberment of young Americans.
Surely Planned Parenthood is not going to give up. There will be more panicky lawsuits, accompanied by the usual intimidation and thuggery we’ve come to expect from an organization whose business is killing.
But cities across the country are not giving up, either. As Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn reports, since Waskom, Texas, became the first sanctuary city of its kind in 2019, many other municipalities have followed suit. Communities are no longer waiting for chief justices in Washington to decide that all Americans enjoy “life worthy of life”—they are taking action at the local level and kicking Planned Parenthood and all other death-dealers to the curb.
When I read the latest news about Lubbock’s fight to protect its weakest residents from the for-profit scalpel and vacuum tubes of Planned Parenthood, I was reminded of another initiative taken in a town on the opposite side of the country, geographically and politically: Evanston, Illinois. As Evanston’s website details:
In 2002, the City Council supported US House Resolution 40 (HR-40), calling for a Federal Commission to study slavery and its vestiges, and to make recommendations for reparations, with the adoption of Resolution 43-R-02, “Slave Reparations.”
In November 2019, the Evanston City Council adopted Resolution 126-R-19, “Establishing the City of Evanston Reparations Fund and the Reparations Subcommittee.” The resolution committed the first ten million dollars ($10,000,000.00) of the City’s Municipal Cannabis Retailers’ Occupation Tax (3% on gross sales of cannabis) to fund local reparations for housing and economic development programs for Black Evanston residents.
This process gained national attention in March of this year, when the Evanston City Council “voted 8-1 […] to approve the Local Reparations Restorative Housing Program, [which] will grant qualifying households up to $25,000 for down payments or home repairs.”
On the one hand, the Lubbock and the Evanston initiatives are important complements to one another. To be sure, the Lubbock ordinance is qualified. A close read of the wording shows that the fines provided for against abortionists go into effect only when the Supreme Court overturns Roe and Casey, or when state or federal courts remove procedural barriers to enforcing Lubbock’s ordinance. But the Lubbock ordinance does provide for tort claims by aborted children’s family members against abortionists. It also allows for citizens or even the city of Lubbock to seek injunction relief against planned abortions.
This means that a sense of community solidarity—being one’s brother’s or sister’s keeper—is driving the law, just like in Evanston. The future of Lubbock suddenly looks much brighter now as a result. The future of Evanston also looks much brighter thanks to the decision to face the evils of the past and do something in the present to make them right.
The attempt to free Lubbock from the scourge of killing is the right approach to the in utero side of being pro-life: Every baby, without exception, deserves absolutely to be born. Likewise, the focused reparations program in Evanston is the right way to be pro-life after birth. “Life” is not a single moment—the moment of conception, the moment the heart starts beating, the moment of delivery. Life is every moment, from beginning to end. As humans, we are going to make mistakes. Being pro-life after birth means supporting sincere repentance and reform when the child in the womb grows up to fall and cause hurt to others along the way. The only way for Evanstonians and all other grown-up human persons to be free to enjoy life in abundance—the goal of every pro-lifer—is to face up to wrongs that have been done. Lubbock and Evanston are thus very much two sides of the same coin: pro-life for the unborn, pro-life for the struggling adult.
On the other hand, however, while Lubbock and Evanston make a nice diptych in many ways, there is one element that doesn’t fit. Readers will have noticed that the Evanston reparations bill is to be paid, in part, by taxes on marijuana.
Cannabis is a booming business in the United States, and many cities and counties are rushing to cash in. But the long-term effects are likely to outweigh the short-term windfall in tax receipts. Healthy, happy families do not use drugs. “Recreational drugs,” in particular, are a sad substitute for the kinds of recreation—picnics, pick-up baseball games, swimming in the local lake—that build up wholesome, loving homes. Evanston is robbing Peter to pay Paul. The revenue from cannabis may put money into the pockets of wronged residents, but as cannabis use spreads it will only undermine the strong sense of community that Evanston is trying to build. The Evanston resolutions have a strong pro-life element, but also elements which encourage the destruction of human flourishing.
Consider, by contrast, that the Lubbock ordinance against abortion contains a strong note of familial responsibility, which seems to argue against the kind of wanton pleasure-seeking that cannabis use implies:
Any person, corporation, or entity that commits an unlawful act described in Section D(1) or D(2), other than the mother of the unborn child that has been aborted, shall be liable in tort to the unborn child’s mother, father, grandparents, siblings and half-siblings. The person or entity that committed the unlawful act shall be liable to each surviving relative of the aborted unborn child […]
A human person has infinite value and his or her family suffers grievously when any harm is done to him or her. This is true, of course, when a person is killed by an abortionist. It is also true when drugs take away a person’s life in other ways. The Lubbock ordinance is pro-life. The Evanston ordinance is pro-life, too, but also, contradictorily, pro-death. It sets up a slow draining away of life, an economy of drug money for reparations that works against the reparative justice the Evanston resolutions might otherwise achieve.