July 18, 2011
By Cindy V. Culp
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Local abortion opponents are in the early stages of a new strategy based on using deed restrictions on private property as a way to limit access to the procedure.
Paperwork was filed in the McLennan County clerk’s office in late June to establish a group known as the Pro-Life Property Owners’ Association of Waco. The nonprofit group is somewhat akin to a typical homeowners’ association.
But instead of setting up neighborhood rules, the group’s purpose is to help property owners declare their land off-limits to abortion. They do that by signing legal documents that state the property can never be the site of abortions or abortion counseling, even by subsequent owners. . .
But the attorneys said a deed restriction against abortion would likely be viewed differently by the courts.
“This is saying the land can’t be used in a particular way, not that the landowner can’t ever get an abortion,” said Julie Forrester, a professor at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. . .
Forrester also said the involvement of a property owners’ association could present legal hurdles. Typically, deed restrictions are simply a promise made between two parties — the person selling property and the person buying it. When an association is injected into the equation, it can trigger additional legal issues, she said.
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