Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

protest in austin

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin on May 29, 2021. (Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

'Fighting Back': Austin, Texas Sets Date to Decriminalize Abortion Care

"The Austin City Council refuses to allow our residents to live under the threat of 99 years in prison for the so-called crime of providing basic medical care," said Council Member Chito Vela.

Jessica Corbett

The Austin City Council plans to make good on members' pledges to challenge attacks on abortion rights with a vote next week on a resolution intended to help protect patients and providers in the Texas capital.

"The importance of this vote can't be overstated."

During a special meeting scheduled for 10:00 am local time on July 21, the council is set to vote on the Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone (GRACE) Act, formally introduced last month by Council Member José "Chito" Vela after the U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing majority overturned Roe v. Wade.

Co-sponsored by Council Members Paige Ellis, Vanessa Fuentes, and Kathie Tovo along with Mayor Steve Adler, the GRACE Act would effectively decriminalize abortion in the city by directing the Austin Police Department to make alleged related crimes its lowest priority and restricting the use of funds for investigations.

Although the "trigger law" passed last year by the Texas Legislature has not yet taken effect, it is expected to later this year—and the state Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that a 1925 abortion ban can be enforced.

"By introducing this resolution during a special session, City Council is doubling down on fighting back for reproductive health," Fuentes said just after the Roe reversal. "Items like the GRACE Act will promote essential healthcare while enabling individuals to exercise their bodily freedom."

Vela told Common Dreams in an email Wednesday that "the importance of this vote can't be overstated."

"The Austin City Council refuses to allow our residents to live under the threat of 99 years in prison for the so-called crime of providing basic medical care," he added. "I encourage Austin residents to sign up to speak in favor of the GRACE Act at our meeting on Thursday, July 21."

City residents who wish to speak in support of the resolution next week—either virtually or in person—can sign up online from Monday, June 18 to noon local time on Wednesday, June 20.

While the GRACE Act would only apply to Austin, Vela recently noted that there are similar efforts in other cities located in states with post-Roe trigger bans and other abortion restrictions.

"We know this resolution is legally sound, and Austin is not alone in this fight," he said. "We are working with several other cities who are equally horrified by the prospect of an abortion ban and want to do everything they can to protect their residents."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

EPA's Environmental Justice Office 'Won't Make Up for' Manchin Deal, Campaigner Says

"We've seen a lot of structural changes on environmental justice in the Biden, Obama and Clinton administrations, but we need to see the results," said Wes Gobar of the Movement for Black Lives.

Julia Conley ·


Historic Tropical Storm Fiona Sweeps Homes Into Ocean in Eastern Canada

"Climate change leads to warmer ocean water at higher latitudes," said one Canadian civil engineering professor. "A warmer future increases the probability that more intense storms will reach Canadian coasts."

Julia Conley ·


Federal Judge Allows 'Untenable' Plan to Send Juvenile Inmates to Angola Prison

"The move defies all common sense and best practices, and it will cause irrevocable damage to our youth and families," said one children's advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'Catastrophic': Arizona Judge Allows 1864 Abortion Ban to Go Into Effect

"No archaic law should dictate our reproductive freedom," said one rights advocate.

Julia Conley ·


US Progressives Express Solidarity With Iranian Protesters After Death of Mahsa Amini

"The right to choose belongs to us all, from hijabs to reproductive care," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo