Austin City Council members show commitment to abortion access, discuss resolution

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council member Paige Ellis led a news conference Wednesday which aimed to share city and county leaders’ support for abortion rights amid the implementation of the Texas Heartbeat Act.

The law bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, which could be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

Ellis was joined by Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Travis County Judge Andy Brown and Austin City Council members Natasha Harper-Madison and Greg Casar at Austin City Hall to discuss the law and show support for abortion access.

“This item reaffirms the City of Austin’s long-standing commitment to abortion access and allocates staff resources within the city’s law department to investigate and pursue appropriate legal support of current effort to challenge this extreme and arcane law,” Ellis said.

According to Ellis, a new city resolution presented publicly Wednesday is dedicating staff resources to help fight the new abortion law. In doing so, Ellis said its financial department will invest in amicus support for court cases.

District 4 council member Greg Casar said as a part of the city’s pledge, they’re also partnering with nonprofits to help low-income women who may need financial support the most. He said they have surplus funds in the city budget to be able to help out with child care expenses for women who now have to cross state lines to get an abortion.

“We actually are working with private donors [as well] to support with our own dollars to make sure women have the support they need,” Casar said.

Kimberlyn Schwartz with Texas Right to Life, a pro-life nonprofit, said the City of Austin shouldn’t be trying to take on the state.

“Ultimately, all of this is a waste of taxpayer resources and a foolish attempt to try to circumvent the will of Texans to support the Texas heartbeat bill,” Schwartz said.

While many Texans support the new law, its journey through the justice system has just begun.

“Gov. Abbott is not king,” Casar said. “He can’t override the U.S. constitution.”

Advocates from Planned Parenthood, Avow Texas, Women’s March and the Austin Justice Coalition also attended.

The news conference highlighted a resolution at Thursday’s city council meeting that “affirms Austin’s commitment to reproductive choice and commits legal support to challenge the law in court.” Ellis is the sponsor of the resolution.

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