Meet Mark Lee Dickson. He's the head of East Texas Right to Life and was one of the key anti-abortion extremists who pushed the SB8 "abortion bounty law" through the Texas state legislature. He is also the leading proponent of "Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn" ordinances. He started peddling these ordinances across Texas in 2019. Now with the fall of Roe he’s focusing on communities in states where abortion is legal, but that border abortion-ban states. SLAAP members were the first to identify Dickson when he came to Bristol VA in March 2023 to protest at the clinic. But his primary purpose was to peddle a criminal abortion-ban ordinance to the community with the hopes of presenting it before the Bristol VA City Council.
But Dickson was not the first outsider to try to push an anti-abortion ordinance in Bristol. The conservative Family Foundation from Richmond VA, had introduced a zoning ordinance in October 2022 that would prevent any new abortion clinics from locating in Bristol. This ordinance failed in committee, but in August 2023, they mounted a second attempt to introduce another zoning ordinance. SLAAP has consistently mounted public counter-protests, our members (who ACTUALLY LIVE in Bristol VA) have spoken eloquently and passionately against anti-abortion ordinances at city council meetings, and we have coordinated with other state organizations to pressure the city council to reject any such ordinances. So far, we have been successful in preventing any ordinances from passing.
SLAAP is working with many partners to expand and protect abortion access and is centrally focused on making sure pro-abortion voices in rural Appalachia are heard on this issue. We are aligned with other progressive organizations to hold spaces for those working against racism, inequality, bigotry and poverty in a frequently hostile political and cultural environment.