Dallas council committee backs plan to limit city resources used to investigate abortions

A committee of Dallas City Council members on Tuesday approved passage of a pro-reproductive care resolution that would limit the use of city government resources in investigations related to abortions.

The proposal to change city policies will go to the full city council for consideration on August 10.

Members of the council’s quality of life, arts and culture committee said the reproductive rights resolution supports residents’ safety and privacy, to avoid greater strain on police resources and to push back against state legislation that they believe violates basic human rights.

“This resolution is so clear and obvious and it’s good governance because it keeps us on our way, doing the work we should be doing as a city and not stepping into areas we don’t belong in as a city. than town,” a council member said. Jaynie Schultz. She was one of three council members not on the seven-member committee who attended the meeting to voice their support for the proposal.

The resolution says the council supports people’s right to seek abortion care and other reproductive health choices and makes it Dallas policy to prohibit city employees from keeping records, giving information or to carry out surveillance work related to the investigation of abortions or miscarriages.

The board committee’s decision comes after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, ending the constitutional right to abortion and paving the way for Texas law that allows the state to ban abortion in almost all circumstances.

The committee’s decision came at a special meeting on Tuesday. Dallas joins Austin, Denton and several other cities across the country that have chosen to limit resources related to abortion investigations in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The Dallas resolution is inspired by Austin’s Abortion Rights Protection for All Act, or GRACE Act.

8 states have banned abortion since Roe’s fall, more states may follow

There are a few exceptions in the proposed new municipal rules. They would not prevent workers from complying with state or federal law, or from investigating crimes related to a pregnant person’s health. City employees would also be allowed to provide information related to abortions or miscarriages if it is to defend a patient’s right to reproductive care. And tracking could be done if it is to collect aggregate data not related to a criminal case or investigation.

The resolution requires that any investigation related to abortions be given the lowest priority, except in certain criminal cases. An example would be if an abortion is evidence of a crime such as sexual assault.

The resolution also directs City Manager TC Broadnax to update members of council via a presentation and report on how the resolution is applied to policies, procedures and other areas of the city.

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Several council members said they heard residents asking them to do something in light of the Supreme Court ruling.

Council member Adam Bazaldua said the resolution would also provide assurances to healthcare workers to help them provide the best possible help to patients.

“It takes the ability for a woman to have the same autonomy over her body and the choice of what happens inside that doctor’s office that any man in the United States of America has,” Bazaldua said, who chairs the committee and moved the resolution. . “For us to sit down as local government and say this is not within our purview would just be very bad governance.”

A state law passed last year allowing abortions only in life-threatening situations will go into effect Aug. 25. This law would make it a crime to knowingly perform, induce or attempt an abortion.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said last week his office would help any local prosecutor pursuing criminal charges related to the ban.

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said in June that he will not prosecute women who seek abortions.

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