Law & the Courts

Austin Earmarks $150,000 to Support Abortion Access Despite New State Law

An imaging table at the Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood St. Louis Region in St. Louis, M., May 28, 2019. (Lawrence Bryant/Reuters)

Austin, Texas will set aside $150,000 for abortion-support resources in the city’s 2020 budget despite a new state law cracking down on financial relationships between the government and abortion providers.

Austin’s 2020 budget, which the city council passed by a ten to one vote on Tuesday, includes an amendment providing $150,000 for “logistical and supportive services for abortion access,” including “transportation, child care, case management, and other services as needed.”

Austin mayor pro tem Delia Garza introduced the amendment, citing “continual barriers that our state puts in front of women for a procedure that is legal.”

“The symbolic part of it is also important: We support women, we support their choices and we’re doing what we can, where we can, so that we can access the full spectrum of heath care, including abortion,” Garza said.

Critics have accused Austin of flouting Texas law SB22, which passed last week and prohibits financial relationships between governmental entities and abortion providers.

Pro-life groups expressed outrage at the city’s decision, saying it not only does not support women but also breaks Texas law.

“It’s appalling that the city of Austin doubled down on its policies to ‘save the trees, kill the children,'” said Nicole Hudgens, policy director at the pro-life group Texas Values, which testified against the amendment at a City Council meeting. “This budget amendment is a political stunt attempting to circumvent the law, and if the city really wants to help women, they need to lower their taxes.”

Austin city councilman Jimmy Flannigan, the only council member who opposed the amendment, said his concerns were financial rather than moral since he supports abortion rights.

“For me, it really is about how it’s the city that the community goes to for everything, and that’s just not sustainable,” Flannigan said.

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