On the other side TexasDemocrat-held cities are galvanizing to blunt the effects of the Republican-led state’s near-total abortion ban after the U.S. Supreme Court voted in June to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark case that gave Americans the constitutional right to terminate their pregnancies.
Texas capital Austin voted last week to ‘decriminalize’ abortion in the city by passing the Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for All (Grace) Act. Although abortion is still illegal in the state, the passage of the Grace Act will redirect the city’s budget to focus on prosecuting larger crimes such as sexual assault, robbery, and burglary.
Local politicians in Waco, a town halfway between Austin and Dallas, followed suit and presented their own version of the Grace Act for consideration.
Other cities like San Antonio are also preparing to protect those who receive and perform abortions. Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Council gathered on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday to announce consideration of a similar resolution in support of reproductive rights.
City council member Teri Castillo, who drafted a resolution, told the Guardian: ‘The community and constituency of San Antonio is not ready to take us back to history, and that’s why I’ve joined the locals who took to the streets to protest Roe’s cancellation against Wade.
She said: ‘What we’re looking to do is let people know that the fight starts locally and that we have the power as city council to ask for and give the policy recommendation that the funds of the city will not be used to store or catalog any report of abortion, miscarriage or other reproductive health procedures strictly for the purpose of pursuing a criminal investigation.
Castillo said she expects the Republican Party to identify ways to close gaps or potential protections for those who want or need to seek access to an abortion.
According to Cynthia Alkon, a law professor at Texas A&M, Castillo is right to be concerned. Alkon pointed out that de-prioritizing the criminalization of abortion is not the same as decriminalizing abortion.
“If the Texas Attorney General is truly committed to prosecuting abortion-related cases as crimes in counties where the local district attorney rightly exercises discretion and decides not to, I think that they are left with two choices: either they try to be appointed pro tem lawyer [for the time being] or, they change the laws on what the Attorney General can do.
Liberal cities face an uphill battle, with several hurdles along the way, including hardline Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has indicated he will pursue the prosecution.
In Tarrant County in Fort Worth, District Attorney Sharen Wilson said she would pursue abortion cases, but in neighboring Dallas County, her counterpart, John Creuzot, said he would not stand in the way. to anyone seeking health care.
Kim Ogg, district attorney for Harris County, Houston’s largest county, said she would consider abortion lawsuits on a case-by-case basis, but said: “Criminalizing reproductive health will cause a great harm to women in America; prosecutors and the police have no role in cases between doctors and patients.
Additionally, the Harris County Commissioner’s Court voted 3 to 2 in favor of Texans’ access to abortion and birth control.
The so-called “heartbeat law,” which bans abortion at around six weeks — when heart activity is detected — is already in effect in the state. Texas’ “trigger law,” which will classify abortion as a crime, even in cases of rape or incest, goes into effect Aug. 25.