July 2, 2019 / 11:29 PM / 20 days ago

U.S. town opposing abortion now scene of pro-choice billboards

NEW YORK, July 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A tiny Texas town that recently declared itself a “sanctuary city for the unborn” now has two giant billboards put up by rights groups who said on Tuesday they were fighting the anti-abortion effort.

The signs sit along a major highway leading into Waskom, Texas, where the all-male City Council last month declared the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling protecting women’s right to abortion “null and void.”

The council’s resolution was designed to protect the town of some 2,000 people from demand for abortion services from women in nearby states or from having an abortion clinic locate there, officials said.

Reproductive rights groups put up the billboards reading “Abortion is Freedom” to remind people that abortion is not illegal and is protected by law, said Cristina Parker, a spokeswoman for the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity.

“If you’re going to try to intimidate us, try to confuse patients, we’re going to come out swinging,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The billboards, put up ahead of the nation’s July 4 Independence Day holiday, will remain through July 21, Parker said.

The eastern Texas town of Waskom is just west of Louisiana, one of nine U.S. states that recently passed strict limitations on access to abortion.

The abortion restrictions are seen as part of an effort to have the nation’s high court reconsider its 1973 ruling.

Waskom, which does not have a clinic providing abortion services, was the first town in Texas to pass such an ordinance, according to local media. It was not clear if other U.S. towns have done so.

The City Council resolution declaring Waskom a “sanctuary city for the unborn” said the Supreme Court had “erred” in its Roe v. Wade ruling, which it called “lawless and illegitimate.”

Waskom city representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new signs.

Billboards opposing abortion, often picturing a fetus, are a common sight along roads in rural America.

The billboards put up in Waskom by NARAL Pro-Choice Texas along with the Lilith Fund include a website for abortion access.

Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Chris Michaud

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