Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Progressives in Southern Cities Vow To Protect Abortion Access

By Elisha Brown, Portside

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, striking down nearly 50 years of precedent that secured a constitutional right to abortion. The long-awaited ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that challenged the constitutionality of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, was authored by Justice Samuel Alito, who called Roe “egregiously wrong from the start” and said it’s time to “return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

The decision makes accessing safe abortion — already difficult in most Southern states — much harder. But some local officials in the region are taking steps to do what they can to protect people’s ability to end unwanted pregnancies.

Minutes after the high court handed down its decision, Austin City Council members announced they would call a special meeting to decriminalize abortion in the Texas capital. Austin City Councilors José “Chito” Vela and Vanessa Fuentes will introduce The GRACE Act (Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone) the week of July 18. The proposal directs the police department to make criminal enforcement related to abortion its lowest priority and restricts city funds and staff from being used to investigate, catalog, or report suspected abortions, Vela’s office said in a statement. The ordinance now has a total of five sponsors on the 11-member council, including Mayor Steve Adler.

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