Updated Jun 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Blue cities in red states say they won't help enforce abortion bans

Picture of signs hanging in front of the Supreme Court with the words "my body, my choice"
Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Some local officials in liberal enclaves within red states say they won't help enforce bans on abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

The big picture: Cities have a "wide range of powers they can draw on to try to safeguard and expand access to reproductive health care, including abortion," said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, an organization that supports abortion rights.

Driving the news: José "Chito" Vela, a member of the city council in Austin, has proposed a resolution to decriminalize abortion locally, even as Texas has one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country.

  • Jenna Hanes, a spokesperson for Vela, said his office has been in contact with lawmakers in several other cities, including Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, who are interested in advancing similar measures.

In Louisiana, Orleans Parish district attorney Jason Rogers Williams has said he "will not shift priority from tackling shootings, rapes and carjackings to investigating the choices women make with regard to their own bodies."

The other side: At least 49 cities have passed ordinances to ban abortion even though it's still, for now, protected by federal law, according to Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, an anti-abortion group focused on helping localities outlaw abortion.

  • 44 of those cities are in Texas.

Yes, but: Many of those local measures have been challenged in court or "are not really enforced," said Fabiola Carrion, director of reproductive and sexual health at the National Health Law Program, a legal organization focused on health rights.

  • These bans "have not prevented people from accessing abortion," Carrion added, noting that most of those cities do not have abortion providers in them.

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Editor's note: This story has corrected the last name of the Orleans Parish DA. His name is Jason Rogers Williams, not Jason Rogers.

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