Thursday, May 19, 2022

Austin City Council Passes the Fight Back for Reproductive Health Agenda

 On Thursday, May 19, 2022, Austin City Council passed the Fight Back for Reproductive Health Agenda - a series of resolutions sponsored by Council Member Vanessa Fuentes. The recent directives by the Texas legislature and the inevitable undoing of Roe v. Wade will present significant challenges for women, trans, intersex, and nonbinary people to access the health and reproductive care they need. This goes against Austin’s values as a City - the proposed Agenda will address gaps and provide certain protections and resources for our communities under attack.
The two resolutions passed, items 88 and 89, would (1) direct Austin’s City Manager to ensure reproductive health decisions are protected from discrimination in employment and housing, and (2) to provide free and accessible menstrual products in city-owned facilities.
“As various state and national entities continue to encroach on and restrict reproductive freedom, it is our responsibility to do everything we can at the local level to defend reproductive rights. We hope to set an example for other cities in Texas to take action”, said District 2 Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes.
“Austin is a city that empowers and respects our residents to make their own decisions over their reproductive health. The ability to find employment or housing should not be impacted based on personal reproductive choices. Discrimination of any kind does not represent who we are as a city and will not be tolerated.” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler when discussing item 88.
“Now more than ever, we must affirm the rights of all people to make reproductive health decisions for themselves,” said Mayor Pro Tem Alison Alter, who represents District 10 on the Austin City Council. “Furthermore, no one should be discriminated against based on those decisions. I am proud to co-sponsor [item 88].”
"Reproductive care of all kinds, including abortion, necessitates the respect and consideration that the city extends to other medical decisions,” said District 4 Councilmember Chito Vela when discussing item 88. “Especially in light of the leaked Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, the City of Austin needs to affirm our commitment to the reproductive safety, privacy, and non-discrimination that all people deserve. We cannot allow discrimination based on medical choices or conditions anywhere in the city."
“More than one in ten Austinites lives below the federal poverty line. In a city as prosperous as ours, it’s easy to overlook the fact that so many of our neighbors are unable to afford basic commodities, and with menstrual stigma, it’s even easier for many to overlook how many people don’t have access to menstrual products,“ said District 1 Councilmember Natasha Harper-Madison when discussing item 89. ”I’ve been pushing for awareness and progress on this issue for years, and I’m proud to join Councilmember Fuentes and our colleagues on a resolution that’s built on upon our previous successes.”
Item 88 was co-sponsored by Council Member José 'Chito' Vela, Council Member Leslie Pool, Mayor Pro Tem Alison Alter, Council Member Paige Ellis, and Mayor Steve Adler.
Item 89 was co-sponsored by Council Member Paige Ellis, Council Member Ann Kitchen, Council Member Kathie Tovo, Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison, Council Member José ‘Chito’ Vela, and Mayor Pro Tem Alison Alter.