Waco activists seek to fight abortions through deed restrictions

SMU Law Professor Julie Forrester talks about Waco, Texas, abortion opponents' are new strategy to use deed restrictions on private property as a way to limit access to the abortions.

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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