On Tuesday, November 2 the Village Board of Dunning voted on an ordinance that would make performing an abortion or aiding and abetting an abortion illegal within the city limits of the Sandhills village of Dunning. Although the board’s first vote to adopt the ordinance was unanimous, the ordinance is not yet in effect.
In order for the ordinance to go into effect, it must survive two more readings by the Dunning Village Board. If the community shows enough support the village board may suspend the rules for a third reading and move to finalize the adoption of the ordinance on the second reading.
Mark Sievering, Pastor of Sandhills Community Church, has been one of the voices supportive of the ordinance. Sievering shared, “While the possibility of an abortion clinic locating in Dunning may seem remote, taking this action could eliminate that remote possibility from ever becoming a reality.”
In late September Pastor Sievering invited Mark Lee Dickson of Texas to speak at Sandhills Community Church. Dickson is a director with Right To Life of East Texas and the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative. Pastor Sievering had been introduced to Dickson by a member of his church who had heard Dickson speak at a fundraising banquet for the Women’s Resource Center in North Platte in mid-September.
According to Dickson, the proposed Dunning Ordinance contains a fine of $500 for anyone who performs an abortion or aids and abets an abortion within the city limits of Dunning. The ordinance does not penalize the mother of the unborn child. Dickson argued that the ordinance does not prevent women who live within the village of Dunning from going elsewhere to obtain an abortion, but it does prevent that act from ever taking place within the village of Dunning.
Currently, there are two municipalities in Nebraska that have passed ordinances outlawing abortion within their city limits: the village of Hayes Center and the city of Blue Hill. Both municipalities passed the ordinance as a preventative measure after the Biden Administration released a statement that committed to abortion access in every zip code.
With the passing of the ordinance onto a second reading, the village of Dunning joins the city of Curtis as the only other municipality in Nebraska which is halfway through the process to outlaw abortion within their jurisdiction.
Last month Kimberle Primavera, the Mayor of the Village of Hayes Center, attended a city council meeting in Curtis to share why her village board (made up almost entirely of younger women) found it necessary to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion within their city limits.
During her presentation in Curtis, Mayor Primavera shared, “If the village of Hayes Center is ever sued, we have a letter from Jonathan F. Mitchell, the former Solicitor General of Texas, who is willing to represent the Village of Hayes Center at no cost to our village or our taxpayers.”
Jonathan F. Mitchell is a former law clerk for Justice Scalia whose arguments have been quoted favorably by Justices Alito and Thomas. On Monday Mitchell argued in Washington, D.C. in support of the Texas Heartbeat Act before the Supreme Court of the United States.
Like Hayes Center, both the city of Curtis and the village of Dunning have also received a letter from Jonathan F. Mitchell which promises representation “at no cost to the city and taxpayers” for any litigation which may result from the passage of the ordinances which have been drafted for their cities.
According to Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, there are a total of 41 cities across America with ordinances outlawing abortion within their city limits. While Governor Pete Ricketts and Lt. Governor Mike Foley have praised the Nebraska cities for their actions the ACLU of Nebraska has been less than thrilled for their actions.
Not only has the ACLU of Nebraska called upon Hayes Center and Blue Hill to repeal their ordinances, but they have also gone on to call the “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn” initiative a “national, extremist effort to shame others and push abortion care out of reach.”
Unless a special meeting is called to consider the ordinance sooner, the next scheduled board meeting for the village of Dunning will be Tuesday, December 7th.
According to Dickson, cities outside of Nebraska that will be considering similar ordinances this next week include the cities of Anson, Texas, and Celina, Ohio.