Texas’ trigger law officially goes into effect today, marking the beginning of a new era of abortion restrictions in Texas. The law bans nearly all abortions, categorizing the vital procedure as a second-degree felony, subject to a fine of no less than $100,000.
Five localities – Denton, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso County, and Dallas – have already passed decriminalization resolutions that ensure local resources will not be used to enforce the states’ trigger law. The resolutions – known as the GRACE (Gaurding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone) Act – also ensure funding and personnel cannot be used for recording, surveillance, or creating any record related to an individual seeking abortion or other reproductive care services.
“My most important goal when I created the GRACE Act was to spread these legal protections as far and wide as possible,” said Austin City Council Member Chito Vela.
And spread they have. Houston, Laredo, San Marcos, DeSoto, and Fort Worth may follow suit shotly. But this is just the first step in a long process to protect reproductive rights in Texas.
Kara Sheehan, Texas Chapter Manager at Local Progress, explained to the Denton Record Chronicle that these resolutions are “the first step for local government to really send a message they’re going to prioritize reproductive and abortion care their community needs.”
And just this week, several groups that help provide economic support to women seeking abortions took a stand, suing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and local prosecutors to block them from filing criminal charges once the trigger ban goes into effect, claiming the ban violates their constitutional rights to free speech and to travel freely.
LPTX members – in deep collaboration with local advocates – are doing everything they can at the local level to protect bodily autonomy and uphold reproductive rights – including creating practical support funds and implementing policies like these decriminalization resolutions that ensure people will not be criminalized for seeking care.
Post-Roe, localities are the last line of defense for people seeking abortion care. Localities can and must continue to advance reproductive freedom – including access to abortion, birth control, and gender-affirming care.
Here’s what localities can do:
- Fund abortion access and amplify calls to support abortion funds. Allocate municipal dollars to local abortion funds, directly to local abortion providers, and/or to support funds that help people pay for costs associated with accessing abortion, such as travel, lodging, and childcare. Learn more here and here. Plus, more information if you’re in a blue state or city or a state with an abortion ban / trigger law.
- Protect people seeking care. Engage every relevant department in the city to implement and enforce policies and practices to prevent harassment and disruption at abortion clinics, including noise regulations, parking and traffic regulations, and anti-nuisance regulations. Local governments in states where abortion will remain accessible can, for example, expand abortion care to accommodate out-of-state patients and refuse to cooperate with criminal and civil investigations against individuals seeking abortions. For additional resources, check out NIRH’s roadmap and policy agenda for localities.
- Ensure access to unbiased information. This includes supporting public awareness campaign to ensure residents know about the safe and legal abortion care they can access in your locality, and to educate residents on how to identify crisis pregnancy centers. Localities can also pass ordinances regulating crisis pregnancy centers that provide false and misleading information about abortion. More on that here.
- Use your public platform to support abortion rights. Local elected officials are key messengers on issues impacting their residents, including abortion and reproductive healthcare. It is crucial that local elected officials use their platforms to call out the impact of abortion restrictions and bans, and advance narratives that support the overall goals of the reproductive justice movement – helping contextualize reproductive justice as synonymous with racial and economic justice. Here are values-based messaging resources to help you speak authentically about your support of abortion rights.
- Work together with other LP members and the abortion rights on state advocacy strategies. Reach out to the LP team to get engaged and find support.
Additional Policymaking Options