‘Transportation to abortion care’ part of plans for San Antonio’s Reproductive Justice Fund

City council created the $500K fund in September, but is only now discussing guidelines for how to use the money

SAN ANTONIO – Nearly seven months after they created it, the 11 members of the San Antonio City Council finally discussed in detail Wednesday how to use the city’s new Reproductive Justice Fund.

One proposed use - which has already spawned a lawsuit but appears to have a majority of the council’s support - is to help cover travel costs for women leaving the state to get legal abortions.

However, such travel assistance could end up accounting for only a small portion of the $500,000 fund, which city public health staff have recommended splitting up amongst numerous reproductive health initiatives.

“I want to be clear that my firm commitment is that these funds should be used to help women make choices about their bodies, about their health, and about their future,” said Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda (D6), who has said she plans to run for mayor. “That includes access to options they can only get outside of Texas: to be clear, traveling out of state to obtain abortions.”

The three councilmen representing the North Side districts were the only ones to openly disagree with using the fund to cover travel costs.

Two of the councilmen, John Courage (D8) and Manny Pelaez (D9), have already launched mayoral campaigns, and Marc Whyte (D10) abstained from voting on the current city budget because of the inclusion of the Reproductive Justice Fund.

“Our personal feelings must be put aside,” said Whyte, who opposes abortion. “Today is about whether we should use our citizens’ tax dollars to fund out-of-state abortions. And the answer to that is ‘no, no, no we shouldn’t.’”

Courage said he believes in abortion rights but did not think city government “should be involved in a decision about enabling somebody to have an abortion,” while Pelaez said the city council‘s job “is also to not unnecessarily divide the community.”

Wednesday’s discussion came after San Antonio Metropolitan Health District staff presented their recommendations for how to spend the $500,000 fund. They highlighted 17 different needs the fund could help tackle, ranging from addressing housing insecurity to doula training scholarships, to home testing kits for sexually transmitted infections.

“Transportation to abortion care” was one of eight items Metro Health listed as “downstream needs” - an area in which it recommended spending only $100,000, though some council members asked to shift more funding that way.

Asked about Metro Health’s funding recommendation, Medical Director Dr. Junda Woo told KSAT it was “Because, as public health, we’re always going to be thinking about what the upstream solutions are because that can prevent those downstream needs.”

Wednesday’s council meeting was discussion-only. Council members won’t actually vote on how to use the Reproductive Justice Fund until Metro Health brings them contracts to approve sometime this fall.

Metro Health is expected to put out a request for proposals this summer.

See the full Metro Health recommendations below:


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, with only narrow exceptions.

Just over a month later, the San Antonio City Council passed a non-binding resolution supporting abortion access in a 9-2 vote. Eight of those council members remain on the dais, while Sukh Kaur (D1), Marina Alderete Gavito (D7), and Marc Whyte (D10) were all elected later.

Leading up to the vote on the FY 2024 budget in September 2023, groups supporting abortion rights urged council members to include what they called a “Reproductive Justice Fund.” An informational flyer from the groups laid out several uses for the fund, including free contraception, diapers, infant care items, and doula support.

It also proposed helping cover the logistical costs - like travel and hotels - for women seeking abortions at clinics across state lines.

Ultimately, the council included money for the Reproductive Justice Fund in the budget but did not set rules for how to spend it. Still, the expectation the new fund would be used to help women access legal abortions outside Texas sparked debate among council members and even a lawsuit from anti-abortion groups.

The city has asked the suit be dismissed since there has been no decision yet on what services or programs the Reproductive Justice Fund will cover.

The city hired an outside law firm to help with the lawsuit, and city spokeswoman Laura Mayes confirmed: “We have been billed approximately $135,000 to date defending against this frivolous lawsuit.”

Judge Cynthia Chapa of the 228th Civil District Court has not yet ruled on the city’s request.

However, City Attorney Andy Segovia says the city also believes the latest case law shows that supporting out-of-state travel for abortion seekers is “legal today.”

“We’ll make sure that whatever it is they (the city council) decide, however it is money spent, it will be legal,” Segovia told reporters.

About the Authors

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

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