Differentiating a suburb by declaring it a “trailblazing pro-life city”?

Suburbs compete with other communities. They engage in decisions and branding that might given them a particular status and/or an edge. Does this fit a possible decision in Alvin, Texas?

Photo by Trace Hudson on Pexels.com

Elected officials in the city of Alvin are considering an all-out ban on abortion that would declare the Houston-area suburb a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” even with the procedure virtually banned by a new state law. 

One of the leaders behind this measure said he aimed to make Alvin, a city of about 26,000 residents in northeastern Brazoria County, a “trailblazing” pro-life city. 

City Council Member Joel Castro said he believes the measure is necessary to enforce the statewide ban. He referenced other small Texas cities, including Lubbock in west Texas, that have implemented similar ordinances. 

The ACLU has pushed back on cities that have implemented similar ordinances in the past, arguing they are unconstitutional and that “cities cannot punish pro-abortion organizations for carrying out their important work.” Abby Ledoux, spokesperson for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the ordinance feels “extremely cruel” and just adds more restrictive layers to the statewide ban, ultimately endangering women in an area where access to abortion care is already limited. 

On one hand, there is the aspect of leaders and residents believing this is the right stance. Numerous communities have developed statements, regulations, and ordinances intended to pursue what they think is right.

But, I wonder if this is also connected to branding. Could a community serve its residents and seek to attract residents, businesses, and others based on taking a particular stand? At the least, the suburb of Alvin might be known by more people from taking a stand and others might factor the community’s stance into a decision about staying there or moving there.

This reminds me of the work of scholar Thomas Vicino in Suburban Crossroads: The Fight for Local Control of Immigration Policy. This book highlights the efforts of three communities to develop and enact their own policies amid concerns about federal immigration policies. The context here is a bit different – Texas has new laws regarding abortion, federal law is clear – but the idea is the same: local governments take it on themselves to address a controversial issue that they feel is important.

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