The blue city of Austin wants to take on the red state of Texas by effectively decriminalizing abortion, a move that would protect its residents in a post-Roe v. Wade America who still want or need to receive the medical procedure.
The landmark 1973 case that legalized abortions nationwide is widely expected to be struck down or severely scaled back by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court in the coming months, a move that would prompt a Texas trigger law to take effect and criminalize almost all abortions. A leaked preliminary draft of the coming opinion would invalidate two rulings that said abortion was a constitutional right.
Texas is one of a number of states already moving to reimpose abortion bans in anticipation of the high court ruling.
A resolution being pushed by Austin councilmember Chito Vela would effectively circumvent the state anti-abortion law by making enforcement, arrest and investigation by the local police department the lowest priority. It would also bar taxpayer money and city staff from being involved in alleged abortion inquiries, Politico reported.
“This is not an academic conversation. This is a very real conversation where people’s lives could be destroyed by these criminal prosecutions,” Mr. Vela told the outlet. “In Texas, you’re an adult at 17. We are looking at the prospect of a 17-year-old girl who has an unplanned pregnancy and is seeking an abortion [being] subjected to first-degree felony charges — up to 99 years in jail — and that’s just absolutely unacceptable.”
The draft majority opinion overturning Roe was leaked to Politico earlier this month, reigniting a fierce national political debate between pro-choice and anti-abortion activists. A final ruling is expected in June or July.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Austin councilmember Chito Vela on one reference.