An East Texas anti-abortion group pushing for area cities to ban abortions within their limits plans to bring their proposed ordinance to Carthage before Christmas.

A representative from the Right to Life East Texas group spoke Thursday night to the Panola County Conservatives Club, and supporters said they hope that the measure, if approved in Carthage, would encourage other surrounding cities and eventually the state to adopt the anti-abortion measures too.

“My thought is if we can get a whole lot of cities to join, it will show Texas legislators that this is what we want and maybe they could go and at least past the heartbeat bill, because that was something that was tabled and not even talked about it,” Nicole Tarpley, who is set to be the new Panola County GOP Chair, said.

The Rev. Mark Lee Dickson and his Right to Life Group are pushing the ordinances to create “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn,” saying abortion is something that should be fought at the local level, not just at the state and federal level.

The abortion ban was first passed in Waskom, and several East Texas towns including Tenaha and Joaquin, have since passed a similar bill. Abortion bans are unconstitutional under current law.

The proposed Carthage ordinance, which Tarpley said was written by State Sen. Bryan Hughes, would ban abortion clinics from operating within city limits, organizers said.

Amy Blackwell, an ambassador with Right to Life East Texas, spoke with Panola County residents Thursday and told them she nearly had an abortion at the Hope Medical Clinic in Shreveport. Blackwell credits a friend for talking her out of it, because Blackwell said she knew it was the wrong decision.

“We were on the way from Mount Enterprise to Carthage, and all the way she was telling me about who I was really, the real me, the one that knew this was wrong,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell says she broke down while in Carthage and realized she couldn’t go through with it. Her daughter is 8 years old now.

“I went through a lot more stuff in my life, a lot more wrong roads, but through it all, two and a half years ago, I finally saw God for who he truly was,” she said. “I knew that I was surrendering my whole life, all of it, the mess and all, and I was going to use that for His will and His purpose in my life. One of those is to share my honest abortion story and to save wonderful babies.”

Blackwell helped take an anti-abortion measure to Mount Enterprise’s town officials, and she said Thursday they also have brought the measure to Rusk. She encouraged those gathered Thursday to bring a lot of people to their city meetings so that officials could see the measure had support behind it.

“If we do not value the ones that can’t fight for themselves, then of course how are we going to teach our kids ‘Don’t bring guns to school and shoot your classmates?’ If we don’t value our babies, then what are we saying to them? And it shows,” she said.

Tarpley said if they can get Carthage to pass the measure, they could take it to other cities in Panola County.

“There’s going to be opposition, there’s going to be people ‘What about the right of the woman and all that?’” she said. “Babies are a gift from God and that’s all there is to it and who are we to play God?”



Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.