Austin City Council pushes to decriminalize abortion


AUSTIN (KXAN)The City of Austin is already putting plans in place in case the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade.

The Texas trigger law would take effect 30 days after a Supreme Court ruling.

It would make it a second-degree felony for a person who knowingly performs, induces, or attempts an abortion.

That penalty would increase to a first-degree felony if the unborn child dies as a result.

Although the law doesn’t penalize women directly, the City of Austin’s general counsel foresees an interpretation of this law that puts pregnant women who actively participate in an abortion at risk.

According to Austin City Councilmember José “Chito” Vela, this is unacceptable.

“We are talking about the potential criminalization of huge numbers of women who are attempting to end unplanned pregnancies,” he said.

The District 4 Councilmember has put forth a proposal, directing the Austin Police Department to treat abortion as their lowest priority for criminal enforcement, arrest and investigation.

It would also limit city funds from being used to target or investigate abortions.

“We need to protect women in Austin,” Vela said. “We need to not be criminalizing a 17-year-old girl.”

The measure – the GRACE Act  – stands for Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone.

District 2 Austin City Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes is a co-sponsor of the resolution.

“Government does not have any business in the decision that a woman makes,” she said. “Anyone who becomes pregnant makes with their choices.”

Ground Game Texas  –  a group pushing for progressive ballot measures  –  is trying to spark a similar course of action in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

“We hope that other city councils will take it upon themselves to create resolutions that are similar to Councilmember Vela’s here in Austin,” executive director Julie Oliver said.

If that isn’t successful, the group plans to turn to the local ballot initiative process.

As for Vela, he has high hopes that the Austin Police Department would comply with the directive.

KXAN reached out to APD, who responded with the following statement:

“The City is prepared to take the steps necessary to implement this resolution upon passage by City Council.”

The GRACE Act won’t be submitted for full city council consideration until the Supreme Court decision is overturned.

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