City council members are working overtime to “Keep Austin Weird,” or perhaps to “Make Austin Illegal.” On September 1, it will be illegal for government entities in the state of Texas to enter into a transaction with an abortion provider or an abortion provider’s affiliates. The Austin City Council, however, is pushing to get abortion funding included into its 2020 budget. The $150,000 city council members are seeking would cover a wide range of abortion-related services. The move seems intended to create a legal battle.
“In Austin, we believe and announce that everyone has a right to healthcare,” Austin city council member Greg Casar said in a press conference. “We believe and announce that abortion is healthcare and we refuse to back down on protecting our continuance basic rights.”
Delia Garza, Austin’s mayor pro tempore, stood with council members Casar, Leslie Pool, and Paige Ellis as they expressed their support for pro-choice advocacy groups on Monday. They announced their intention to seek the $150,000 for women who desire abortions.
“With the restrictions the state has put on legal abortion care, Texans everywhere, including my constituents, have had to delay care and it may even mean a legal abortion is out of their reach completely,” Garza argued.
He was referring to Senate Bill 22, which states that “a governmental agency may not enter into a taxpayer resource transaction with an abortion provider or an affiliate of an abortion provider.” Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law on June 7.
When the law goes into effect on September 1, it will end a deal in which Austin is leasing a building to Planned Parenthood for $1 per year.
During debate on the bill, Texas Representative Candy Noble (R) urged colleagues to support the bill as an effort to protect the consciences of taxpayers. “Abortion is not health care, but instead it’s the intentional destruction of human life,” she said.
The city council members are seeking to give $150,000 to abortion organizations that provide services like transportation, counseling, lodging, and childcare.
“The state and the federal government has spent years trying to make legal abortion more expensive and more difficult to access,” Garza argued. “The results of their efforts falls disproportionally on marginalized communities like the ones I represent.”
Conservatives have spoken out against this lawless action.
“It’s appalling that the city of Austin’s policies is to save the trees, kill the children,” Texas Values policy director Nicole Hudgens said in a statement. “Clearly Austin is trying to circumvent the law and find different ways to kill children, and we think that’s appalling and if they really want to help women and children they need to lower their property taxes and focus on things like that.”
Hudgens urged taxpayers to attend city council meetings and make their opposition to this policy known.
It seems likely the city council will attempt to challenge S.B. 22 in court. This could become a long-term battle.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.