“We believe the council’s budget direction and the responsive funding proposals are consistent with state law requirements,” the city’s media team stated. “The city has successfully defended against similar allegations in similar lawsuits and will continue to do so here.”
Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz framed the issue as a case of money misuse.
“Local governments that use tax dollars to aid and abet abortions are committing a criminal act,” Saenz claimed. “They can’t hide behind Roe v. Wade because there’s no constitutional right to taxpayer funding of abortion.”
Specifically, the plaintiffs’ petition asserts that Austin violated rules of both the Texas Penal Code and Civil Statutes that were never repealed after Roe v. Wade, specifically Article 1415 of the civil statutes which prohibits the killing of the unborn and Section 7.02 of the penal code which ascribes criminal responsibility to anyone who aids another person in committing a crime.
This marks only the latest lawsuit brought against the city for concerns of abortion subsidies.
“There’s been a lot of litigation of the City of Austin because they’re notorious for trying to avoid state law or legal precedent when it doesn’t match up with their political ideology,” Saenz told The Texan. “These concerns have been expressed for quite some time at the City of Austin in public hearings, and it appears that they didn’t–they’re being dismissive of these legitimate legal and policy concerns.”
In part as a response to Austin’s deal with Planned Parenthood allowing the abortion provider to rent a space for $1 a year, the 86th Legislature also passed Senate Bill 22 last year, which blocks abortion providers from receiving tax dollars. The city council later announced a plan to allocate $100,000 to logistical aid for women seeking abortions, inviting another lawsuit by Texas Values.
“Logistical support services” to access abortion made their way onto the budget as a rider, for which Mayor Steve Adler expressed his support. Around 8:00 p.m., during the online meeting, Adler opened the floor to discussion on the rider and met with silence from the council members before moving on. At the end of the lengthy meeting, Adler expressed his optimism with what he called “the Justice Budget.”
“[The budget] puts significant new investments in public health, and all that with the lowest general fund supported tax rate in twenty years,” Adler said. “I am really, really proud to vote for it.”
Saenz hopes a victory in the suit will end the allocation of tax dollars to abortion-related services in Austin and elsewhere.
“Providing transportation for a woman to go get an abortion is really no different than someone who’s driving a car on the way to rob a bank,” Saenz said. “I think our view is similar to what the majority of Texans feel: that using tax dollars to help in the process of someone ending the life of an unborn child is wrong.”
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