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In One Texas City, Abortions Could Be Decriminalized

Some in Austin are pushing to do just that
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2022 1:30 AM CDT
Austin Has a Plan for Texas' Post- Roe World
Remi Jenkins rallies for abortion rights outside the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, where former President Donald Trump was speaking Saturday, May 14, 2022.   (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Texas is likely to criminalize nearly all abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade—but not every Texas city is on the same page. Austin, for one, has a resolution in the works that would effectively decriminalize abortion, protecting its residents from being prosecuted if they terminate a pregnancy, Politico reports. Councilmember Chito Vela, who introduced the resolution, says action must be taken now: "In Texas, you’re an adult at 17," Vela tells Politico. "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." "The city is prepared to take the steps necessary to implement this resolution upon passage by City Council," a city of Austin rep says.

Texas is one of many states with so-called "trigger laws" that will take effect within 30 days if Roe is overturned, and some believe the Texas law will enable authorities to go after not just abortion providers but people seeking abortions. Vela's proposed resolution, in an effort not to come into conflict with the state law, would direct police to make abortion their lowest priority in terms of enforcement and would restrict city staff or funds from being used to investigate suspected abortions. While this is the first move by a major blue city in a red state to get around the state's abortion laws in a hypothetical post-Roe world, activists are looking to implement them in other, similar cities. See more at Politico. (More Texas stories.)

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