Oct 1, 2021

Austin to provide legal services for abortion law challenges

A protester holds a "I stand with Planned Parenthood" sign at a rally outside the Texas Capitol

Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

Austin will soon chip in on challenges to Texas' restrictive new abortion law.

Driving the news: Austin City Council members approved a resolution Thursday that directs city staff "to investigate and pursue appropriate legal action" in support of ongoing lawsuits challenging Senate Bill 8.

  • The law allows private citizens to sue health care providers that perform abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually six weeks after conception and before many women know they're pregnant.

The resolution also would renew the city's "consistent support of reproductive rights" and encourage local businesses "to join the city in opposing the implementation of SB 8."

  • A number of businesses signed on to an open letter in opposition to the law, but many of Central Texas' largest employers have stayed silent.

Flashback: The city has taken similar steps for legislation out of the Capitol.

  • In 2017, the council approved a resolution that directed resources for litigation to challenge Senate Bill 4, which banned so-called "sanctuary cities" by requiring local police to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Austin joined a coalition of cities to support resources for litigation.

What's next: Abortion advocates and city officials will convene this Saturday at the Texas Capitol at 9am for the annual Women's March.


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