On Thursday, July 28, Council Member Leslie Pool passed a resolution condemning two recent Supreme Court decisions, West Virginia v. EPA and Dobbs v. Jackson.
“Both these rulings are assaults on health and safety,” said Council Member Pool. “In Dobbs, the Supreme Court took away the long-held Constitutional right of women to make their own health care decisions. In West Virginia, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA cannot address our climate challenges by fully regulating power plants, even though power plants are the biggest contributors to air pollution. This planet is literally on fire, and we cannot stop it without abrupt and dramatic emissions reductions.”
Council Member Pool said it was important for Austin to make a statement, and that she is grateful to her seven co-sponsors and for swift passage.
“Austin is recognized internationally as a city that promotes equality, freedom, and health,” said Council Member Pool, “and it is important to let others know we find these decisions absolutely unacceptable. In May I represented Austin at the ICLEI international conference on climate, where Austin was one of six cities selected as trailblazers, asked to share our work on climate action with thousands of participants. In terms of reproductive freedom, Austin will never be the kind of city that thinks children should be forced to bear a pregnancy to term, even if they’re the victims of rape or incest, as just happened in another state. The State Legislature’s dictates are way out of step.”
Mayor Steve Adler expressed his extreme disappointment in the rulings as well. “The US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the longstanding constitutional rights of privacy and choice and to severely limit enforcement of the Clean Air Act were wrong and do not reflect the values of most in Austin,” the Mayor said. “The fact that the Court got it so wrong is alarming and means that gay marriage and many other rights are now also at risk. We at the local level must do all we can to limit these assaults.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Alison Alter described the decisions as “devastating decisions an extremist Supreme Court,” stating that “the Dobbs and West Virginia cases will have disastrous consequences in the near term and for generations to come. I am proud to join my colleagues in calling for state and federal leaders to protect clean air regulations and reproductive rights.”
Council Member Vela, who recently passed the GRACE Act to decriminalize abortion in Austin, said, “Council Member Pool was a vital co-sponsor of the GRACE Act, which took action to protect abortion providers in Austin. I’m grateful for her support last week, and I’m excited to co-sponsor her resolution to condemn the Dobbs and EPA decisions.”
“The City of Austin is firmly committed to protecting both the environment and choice in reproductive health care,” said Council Member Paige Ellis. “It’s important for the council to go on record stating the U.S. Supreme Court is acting in a way that jeopardizes these core community values. As elected officials, one of the most important things we can do is use our collective voice to stand with our citizens whose rights are under attack.”
“Our City Council has a long history of supporting and bolstering reproductive rights,” said Council Member Kathie Tovo. “We may not have control at the state and federal level but there are things we can do at the local level to help those who need assistance seeking abortion care without fear of retribution. It’s distressing to see the Supreme Court taking us backwards on a number of fronts – relaxing regulations on power plant emissions is nonsensical given the ongoing threats of climate change.”