Citizens in Lubbock, Texas voted this past weekend to declare the city a “Sanctuary City for the Unborn,” drawing praise from the diocese’s bishop.

“I join with many others in the city of Lubbock, including many of our Catholic Faithful, who voted for the Ordinance declaring Lubbock a ‘Sanctuary City for the Unborn,’ Bishop Robert Coerver of the Lubbock diocese said in a statement upon the passage of the ordinance. 

Bishop Coerver said his vote was “in the hope that the ordinance will be successful in bringing about an end to the killing of voiceless innocents through the act of abortion.” Coerver said he hopes that the measure will be an occasion for all residents to grow in their respect for human life, from conception until natural death. 

The city’s measure declares performing or aiding in an abortion unlawful, but will not be enforced by the government until the Supreme Court overturns its 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, Roe v. Wade, as well as the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling which built upon Roe. 

Private citizens, especially family members of aborted babies, are allowed to bring lawsuits against people or businesses who violate the ordinance by performing or aiding in in abortion; mothers of aborted children are exempt from the penalties under ordinance.

Voters approved the measure on Saturday, with supporters comprising 62% of the unofficial tally. Another attempt to pass the proposition last year was unsuccessful, when the city council rejected it because of fear of a lawsuit, the AP reported. 

The local Planned Parenthood clinic began providing abortions on April 15, and the vote passed on May 1. The ordinance is expected to take effect on June 1 says Mayor Dan Pope, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. 

The Journal also reported that Lubbock, with a population of more than 250,000, is the largest city to adopt the sanctuary city policy, as well as the first to declare the ban while having an abortion provider within its boundaries. Other cities in Texas have adopted similar ordinances.

The ordinance makes it unlawful for any person to procure, perform, aid, or abet an abortion of any type and at any stage of pregnancy in Lubbock. No one can provide transportation to or from an abortion provider, give instructions of any kind regarding self-administered abortion, provide money for an abortion or the costs associated with procuring an abortion, or coerce a pregnant mother to have an abortion against her will. 

Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and the ACLU of Texas both hinted at challenging the ordinance. 

“The ACLU has a long history of challenging unconstitutional abortion bans and will continue to fight to protect the fundamental rights of the people of Lubbock,” said Drucilla Tigner, a policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas, responding to the ordinance.