SAN ANTONIO – Though it would not legalize abortion in San Antonio, the city council will discuss a resolution on Tuesday meant to show support for women seeking the procedure.
The proposed resolution would also make a policy recommendation not to use city funds -- outside of what is “clearly required” by state and federal law -- to catalog, collect or share with other government agencies information on instances of abortion strictly to pursue criminal investigations.
While District 5 Councilwoman Teri Castillo, the driving force behind the resolution, and Mayor Ron Nirenberg acknowledged city council couldn’t dictate San Antonio Police enforcement, they both framed the proposal as a way to protect San Antonio women.
The proposed language is similar to the “GRACE Act,” short for “Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone,” which the Austin City Council passed on July 21. But whereas Austin’s proposal also included a policy specifically stating investigations into abortions would be “the lowest priority for enforcement,” the latest draft of San Antonio’s resolution does not have that language.
“When we look at collecting data and criminalization, that means enforcement. So essentially, it is decriminalizing in that we will not be collecting data to criminalize women,” Castillo said at a Wednesday morning press conference. “Without the data collection, you cannot criminalize the woman -- the individual seeking access to health care.”
Castillo said her office began drafting a resolution as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade became public.
“Because we have a responsibility to protect our residents from any violation of their protected human rights and their free exercise thereof, a duty to stand up against that draconian Supreme Court ruling, especially in a state like Texas, where trigger laws will go into effect,” Castillo said.
The Texas Tribune reports that Texas’s “trigger law” banning almost all abortions will go into effect on Aug. 25. However, the procedure is already “virtually outlawed” by another state statute predating the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
San Antonio’s proposed resolution also includes a commitment to prioritize “reproductive rights” as part of the city’s legislative agenda in Austin.
It also notes Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales’s plan to exercise his discretion on whether to prosecute criminal abortion cases.
Gonzales, who also appeared at Wednesday’s press conference, is up for re-election in November. His Republican opponent, Marc LaHood, has previously said the DA’s job is to “enforce the laws on the books” and that crime in the county is “sky-high because Joe Gonzales picks and chooses which laws he wants to enforce.”