During their meeting on Thursday, the Austin City Council unanimously approved a $150,000 contract for Jane’s Due Process, an organization that assists pregnant minors in obtaining abortions.
The funding is “to provide logistical support services for abortion access, for a term of one year.”
The Lilith Fund, an abortion advocacy group in Texas, praised the council for their decision.
“Our partners will have $150K to support Austinites seeking abortion care! This is one example of what it looks like to invest in community,” wrote the Lilith Fund, tagging Jane’s Due Process as well as two other groups, Mama Sana Vibrant Woman and Fund Texas Choice.
According to the agenda item, the contract funding was only for Jane’s Due Process.
Last September, the city council approved a budget amendment to provide $150,000 to assist women seeking abortions with related logistical costs such as transportation.
Following their budget amendment, the City of Austin was criticized by Republicans and pro-life advocates for violating SB 22, which bars government entities from funding abortion providers or their affiliates, such as Planned Parenthood.
Prior to the passing of SB 22, Austin provided a leasing agreement with Planned Parenthood to provide a piece of property to the organization for the next twenty years at a rate of one dollar per year.
State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), who authored the bill, said that the city’s budget amendment “defiantly violates the spirit of Senate Bill 22, if not an outright violation against the law.”
Former Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s decision.
A district court ruled against Zimmerman on the basis that the lawsuit was not ripe because the city had not at that point approved any contracts with a particular organization.
John Seago, the legislative director for Texas Right to Life, later filed a similar suit against Austin as the decision on a contract grew closer.
With the contract approved by the city council today, Seago has filed a motion for an emergency hearing.
Another pro-life organization, Texas Values, testified at the city council meeting against the contract.
“Again, the city council has chosen to exercise political posturing to see how far they can go before they can break the recently passed law SB 22 that bans contracts between government entities and abortion providers,” said Mary Elizabeth Castle, the policy advisor for Texas Values.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.