Austin To Be First US City To Fund Abortion Support Services

Associated Press
September 12, 2019 - 5:07 pm

FILE - In this Wednesday, April 5, 2017 file photo, demonstrators participate in a rally for Planned Parenthood at the Capitol in Austin, Texas. Abortion advocates say Texas' capital of Austin has become the first city in the nation to provide funding toward logistical services for abortion access. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Abortion advocates said Thursday that Texas' capital of Austin has become the first city in the nation to provide funding toward logistical services for abortion access.

The move comes as several states passed sweeping abortion bans this year, and after Planned Parenthood pulled out of a federal family planning program in opposition to a new Trump administration rule prohibiting clinics from referring women for abortions.

For Texas, which has passed some of the nation's strictest anti-abortion laws, the Austin City Council voted on Tuesday to provide $150,000 of funding for transportation, lodging and childcare for local women seeking abortions. The money will not go directly toward the expense of undergoing the procedure.

Sarah Lopez, a program coordinator for Fund Texas Choice, said the action made "Austin the first city in the nation to provide practical support funding for residents seeking an abortion."

It comes on the heels of a new Texas law passed earlier this year that bans contracts between abortion providers and government entities. That law was largely provoked by Austin leasing a downtown building to Planned Parenthood for just $1.

Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza said the funding will break down some of the barriers created by restrictions at the state and federal level that limit access to abortion and was based on meeting community needs.

Republican state Sen. Donna Campbell, the author of the Texas law, said in a statement she was not surprised Austin "would manipulate the law (SB 22) to use taxpayer dollars to pay for transportation and lodging to those seeking an abortion."

Campbell said she is looking into the possibility of challenging the funding through the Texas Attorney General's office.

In recent years thousands of women in the U.S. have crossed state lines for an abortion as states have passed ever stricter laws and as the number of clinics has declined.

As part of a national trend, six states— Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio— passed bills this year banning abortions around six weeks into pregnancy.

Most of those have since faced legal challenges, where federal judges have indicated that the laws will likely fail to hold up under the legal precedents set by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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