Friday, June 24, 2022

Austin City Council Moves Forward with Abortion Decriminalization


Special Called Meeting Set for the Week of July 18

Moments after Roe v Wade was overturned, Austin City Council Members Jose “Chito” Vela and Vanessa Fuentes called for a special meeting to pass the GRACE (Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone) Act. Council Member Vela drafted and submitted the resolution, which is co-sponsored by Council Members Vanessa Fuentes, Paige Ellis, and Kathie Tovo, alongside Mayor Steve Adler.

The GRACE Act is a policy recommendation in 2 parts:

  1. City funds shouldn’t be used to surveil, catalog, report, or investigate abortion.

  2. Police should make investigating abortion their lowest priority.

CM Chito Vela stated, “Unlike the conservative Supreme Court or the Texas state government, the Austin City Council serves the interests of our people. Banning necessary medical care like abortion endangers women’s health. The City of Austin will not be complicit.”

CM Vanessa Fuentes said, “The importance of the GRACE Act cannot be overstated. By introducing this resolution during a special session, City Council is doubling down on fighting back for reproductive health. Items like the GRACE Act will promote essential healthcare while enabling individuals to exercise their bodily freedom.”

CM Paige Ellis stated, “This city will not be complicit in the state’s efforts to criminalize decisions made by families and their doctors. I proudly stand with my colleagues in opposing this unprecedented attack on bodily autonomy. As elected officials, it’s our duty to do everything in our power to minimize the damage this ruling will cause.”

"Austin was the first city in Texas to pass 'Rosie's Resolution,' in memory of Rosie Jiménez,” said CM Kathie Tovo. “Rosie might still be with us today had she been able to use Medicaid to pay for a safe abortion. No matter what state and federal lawmakers do to prohibit safe and affordable abortions, Austin's City Council will continue to support reproductive rights.” 

Mayor Steve Adler stated, “It is tragic that women have lost the human right to make their own healthcare choices, including as to abortion. With this opinion, the Supreme Court puts women and so many others at risk and in danger. Austin will, to the best of its ability, do all we can to protect our values and our people.”

The Texas state government has a history of aggressively overturning municipal protections of human rights, but Council Member Vela has high hopes for the GRACE Act’s longevity.

“We know this resolution is legally sound, and Austin is not alone in this fight,” said CM Vela. “We are working with several other cities who are equally horrified by the prospect of an abortion ban and want to do everything they can to protect their residents.”

Julie Oliver, Executive Director of Ground Game Texas, sees value in building a coalition as well. “In Texas, local leaders must make clear that we value every American's right to privacy and bodily autonomy. That's why we're urging city councils across the state to ratify solutions that would decriminalize abortion care and ensure no city resources, including law enforcement, are used to investigate and prosecute reproductive care."

To view the Austin City Council’s ongoing discussion of this issue, please visit Council Member Vela’s message board post. For future releases, please sign up for updates.

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