This North Texas city might soon be known as a ‘sanctuary city for the unborn.’

There soon could be a new sanctuary city in North Texas.

This one would be for “the unborn.”

Leaders in Mineral Wells are scheduled Tuesday night to discuss whether they’d like to consider making their hometown such a sanctuary, following the lead of Waskom, a small East Texas town, even as critics adamantly argue that cities don’t have the ability to do that.

“I think this is absolutely the right thing to do,” Mineral Wells Mayor Christopher Perricone said. “My beliefs as a Christian are that life begins at conception. Those lives are in need of help.

“Our town could take a stand.”

If the City Council agrees that this is the direction the city should take, a formal vote could come later this month.

Perricone, a 38-year-old who became mayor last year, said he would like his small city of around 15,000 residents about 50 miles west of Fort Worth to lead the way for other cities.

The proposal drew quick criticism from groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.

“Every Texan, regardless of income or geographic location deserves access and has a right to the full range of reproductive healthcare, including abortion,” Aimee Arrambide, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, wrote in a statement. “Cities in Texas don’t have the authority to ignore the constitution.

“Just like the Waskom ordinance, the proposed Mineral Wells ordinance is a dangerous attempt to undermine Roe v. Wade and disregards the fact that the majority of Texans believe abortion should remain legal.

Waskom first

Perricone said he got the idea to do this from Waskom, which made headlines across the country when its all-male city council passed an ordinance last month banning abortions.

True, neither Waskom nor Mineral Wells have abortion clinics in their communities.

And that’s just the way some want to keep it, making it hard for any clinics to move in to their cities.

Many acknowledge that the Waskom ban — and any others also passed in Texas — likely will be challenged in court.

“What started in Waskom, it’s like a little snowball that starts at the top of the mountain,” Perricone said. “I think we would just be a progression of that.”

The Waskom measure not only made abortion a crime. It also made it a crime for anyone to help a woman receive an abortion, even assisting her with travel plans, and it prevents the sale of so-called “morning after” pills. Exceptions are made in cases of rape, incest and when a woman’s life is in danger.

“We will not be intimidated by these unenforceable rogue ordinances,” Arrambide said in her statement. “We want Texans to know that abortion remains legal in all 50 states and all 254 counties in Texas.”

‘Civil rights issue’

Mark Lee Dickson, director of Right to Life East Texas, helped lead the Waskom effort and said he has spoken with Perricone as well.

“His job as mayor is to look after the people in the city, including the most vulnerable,” Dickson said. “This is the civil rights issue of our day. Unborn children are just as much human as me and you. Their lives deserve to be protected.”

He said he’s been talking to other elected leaders across Texas and one day would love to see all Texas cities pass ordinances “that protect lives like the Waskom one does.”

NARAL’s Arrambide suggests that city officials focus on city business.

“The city of Mineral Wells should be more concerned with fixing potholes, and moving into the 21st century by working on the priorities outlined by ‘Envision Mineral Wells,’ rather than wasting time trying to pass an ordinance that will never be enforced,” she said.

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.