On Wednesday, the city council unanimously approved the pro-life ordinance in a 5-0 vote, according to Texas Scorecard.
Mayor Nolan Ray Goolsby said he supported the pro-life ordinance against the recommendations of the city attorney and state municipal leaders.
"I had our secretary check with our attorney in Waco, and he advised us to not take any action. We called [Texas Municipal League], and they told us the same thing," Goolsby said. "But I want to go from my heart and what I have been praying about this."
Mark Lee Dickson, director with Right to Life of East Texas and founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative, said they later learned that the city attorney is married to an abortion activist and former Planned Parenthood board member.
Dickson said leaders of Centerville (population 892) received hundreds of petitions from residents urging them to pass the ordinance.
He said one came from Carly Hickman, who shared how her mother, single and caring for two young children, found herself pregnant for a third time despite having had her tubes tied.
"The reality is not lost on me that I was the prime target for an abortion," Hickman said. "° I could have been aborted, but [I] obviously wasn't. Thirty years of marriage later, my parents went on to have three more children after me ° a total of 17 grandchildren altogether, and one more on the way! So, lest you think that just one life is saved when the unborn are protected from abortion, think again."
The Centerville ordinance makes it unlawful for any person to procure or perform, aid or abet an abortion at any stage of pregnancy in the city.
It defines abortion as "the act of using or prescribing an instrument, a drug, a medicine, or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to cause the death of an unborn child of a woman known to be pregnant."
The ordinance does not ban birth control, and it allows exceptions for abortion if the mother's life is at risk.
"Unlike sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants, cities that have adopted the sanctuary cities for the unborn ordinances are not violating any federal laws. This is because the entire ordinance stands in line with the United States Constitution, the Texas Constitution, and all federal and state laws," Dickson explained at Texas Scorecard.
The ordinance includes both public and private enforcement mechanisms. The public enforcement mechanism, which cannot be enforced immediately because of current court rulings, creates fines against the abortionist and anyone who helps the abortionist abort an unborn baby in the city.
However, the private mechanism is immediately enforceable. It allows anyone, such as the relative of an unborn baby, to sue the abortionist or anyone who helps the abortionist kill the unborn baby.
To date, two cities in Nebraska, one in Ohio and 30 in Texas have passed pro-life ordinances through the Sanctuary City for the Unborn movement. Dickson told Live Action News that pro-life residents of Leona, Eastland, Slaton, San Angelo and Edinburg also are urging their cities to pass Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinances.
Several cities with Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinances faced lawsuits by pro-abortion groups, but none of the legal challenges have succeeded.
Earlier this summer, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood challenging the Lubbock, Texas ordinance. Lubbock is the first city with an abortion facility to pass a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance, and Planned Parenthood stopped aborting unborn babies on June 1 when it went into effect.
Seven other Texas cities won another victory in 2020 when the American Civil Liberties Union dropped its lawsuit challenging their pro-life ordinances.