City of San Antonio requests dismissal of Reproductive Justice Fund lawsuit

Anti-abortion groups sued the city over the $500K fund, which they believe will fund out-of-state travel for abortion

SAN ANTONIO – A lawsuit over the City of San Antonio’s controversial but still undefined Reproductive Justice Fund made its way to a courtroom Thursday.

While the city’s legal team tries to get the case thrown out of court, the city council is close to finally discussing how to spend the money it set aside more than six months ago.

Anti-abortion groups sued the city in October, shortly after the city council created the new $500,000 fund. The city has not determined how the money will be used, but groups like the San Antonio Family Association (SAFA) believe it’s meant to help women access legal, out-of-state abortions by covering their travel costs.

“We think eventually that’s what’s going to take place. Incrementally, they’re going to do that, yes,” the group’s president, Michael Knuffke, said Thursday. “How they do — how they go about that, how they do it legally, I don’t know. But that is exactly the purpose for our case — is to stop it from happening.”

SAFA and Texas Right to Life are the primary plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which asks the court to declare the fund’s establishment in the budget invalid and that it can’t be used to fund any group “that ‘procures’ drug-induced abortions, aids or abets self-managed abortions in Texas, or aids or abets drug-induced abortions in which the pregnant woman swallows either of the two abortion-inducing drugs in Texas, or expels her unborn child in Texas.”

The City of San Antonio has asked the case be dismissed since there has been no decision yet on what services or programs the Reproductive Justice Fund will cover.

“The city could make any number of decisions about what to do with the Reproductive Justice Fund. It could decide to spend money on prenatal care, maternal health services, education, postpartum care. Abortion care is just one of many possibilities,” argued attorney Lauren Ditty in a Thursday court hearing, the first in the case.

Judge Cynthia Chapa of the 228th Civil District Court made no rulings during the hearing.


The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June 2022 paved the way for abortion to be regulated state-by-state. The procedure is illegal in Texas.

Groups supporting abortion rights lobbied the city for the creation of a “Reproductive Justice Fund” during the budget process in September.

Though council members included the fund when they passed the city’s $3.7 billion annual budget on Sep. 14, they did not establish any guidelines for how the money might be used.

While the money could fund services like contraceptives or reproductive health education, abortion rights advocates and some council members have also said it could help cover travel costs for women seeking legal abortions outside of Texas.

City Manager Erik Walsh initially said the council would discuss the parameters of the fund sometime that fall. More than six months later, that discussion still hasn’t happened, though it appears to be just around the bend.

San Antonio Metropolitan Health District staff are expected to present their recommendations on the fund’s use during an April 10 council meeting.

City Attorney Andy Segovia told KSAT he believed the council has had other priorities on which it wanted to focus first, and it’s difficult to schedule the council’s “B-Sessions,” which typically feature an in-depth discussion on one or two subjects.

“I would say it had nothing to do with the ongoing lawsuit,” Segovia said.

Metro Health will put out a request for proposals after the April 10 meeting, taking into account whatever council members said during the discussion, Segovia said. However, the council will only vote after Metro Health has chosen potential recipients and needs approval for the contracts.

At that point, after the council votes, the city says a lawsuit would make sense. But Knuffke says, “Everyone knows the City of San Antonio plays games.”

“They spend it, and they say, ‘It’s already done. So there’s no case here,’” he continued. “If they don’t spend and we catch them upfront, they say, ‘Well it’s not been spent yet.’”

However, Segovia said the groups could ask for an injunction in the immediate wake of the vote if they feel the city’s using money in an illegal manner.

“They can go 10 minutes later and go file a lawsuit,” Segovia said.

The city attorney said, “The state of the law is in flux” on whether the city could legally fund out-of-state travel for abortion seekers. Once the city council is ready to decide how to spend the $500,000, the city will decide whether it passes legal muster, Segovia said.

“And I’m sure the city council will follow the law,” Segovia said.

About the Authors

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.

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