The blue city of Austin wants to tackle the red state of Texas by effectively decriminalizing abortion, a measure that would protect its residents in a post-Roe v. Wade who still want or need to receive the medical procedure.
The landmark 1973 case that legalized abortions nationwide is set to be struck down or severely reduced by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court in coming months, a decision that would prompt a Texas trigger law to take effect and criminalize almost all abortions. A leaked draft of the upcoming opinion would invalidate two rulings that abortion was a constitutional right.
Texas is one of several states already moving to reimpose the abortion ban ahead of the High Court ruling.
A resolution pushed by Austin Councilman Chito Vela would effectively circumvent the state’s anti-abortion law by making enforcement, arrest and investigation by the local police department the priority the lowest. It would also prevent taxpayers’ money and city staff from being implicated in investigations into suspected abortions, 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,” Vela told the outlet. “In Texas, you’re an adult at 17 years. We consider the perspective of a 17-year-old girl who has an unplanned pregnancy and is seeking an abortion. [being] subject to first-degree felony charges – up to 99 years in prison – and that is simply unacceptable.
Roe’s toppling majority opinion draft was leaked to Politico earlier this month, reigniting a fierce national political debate between pro-choice and anti-abortion activists. A final decision is expected in June or July.