Austin, TX, 48 seconds ago — The Travis County Commissioners Court adopted a resolution deprioritizing abortion investigations on September 13.
The resolution comes months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision which reversed Roe v. Wade in June, overturning the constitutional right to an abortion.
Following this ruling, House Bill (HB) 1280, the Human Life Protection Act (HLPA), went into effect in Texas. This made administering abortions a felony except in cases when the life of the mother is threatened.
Texas also has two other laws prohibiting abortion. Senate Bill 8 (SB), called the “Texas Heartbeat Act,” allows citizens to bring civil suits against those who perform abortions. Texas also has a pre-Roe statute against abortion that regained effect following the Dobbs decision.
The law went into effect on August 25, and local governments of some of the most populous metropolitan areas in Texas responded with measures to protect the practice from prosecution.
The district attorneys (DA) of Bexar, Nueces, Dallas, Fort Bend, and Travis counties have all vowed not to prosecute abortion-related crimes.
Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston pursued a similar route, saying, “The city of Houston will not prioritize utilizing resources to create any record used against those experiencing miscarriages, seeking an abortion or any other pregnancy outcome.”
Travis County DA Jose Garza said in June, “Here in Travis County, we will not criminalize personal health care decisions. If you need medical assistance, I implore you to seek it.”
“To enforce this law will not only fail to promote or protect public safety, but will also lead to more harm.”
The Travis County Commissioners Court will follow Garza’s lead. “Eliminating legal access to abortion has been empirically proven to dramatically increase the risk of death, bodily injury, and infertility, especially within low-income communities and communities of color,” the resolution reads.
“The Travis County Commissioners Court formally condemns any action intended to abrogate the fundamental liberties of its people and affirms its commitment to protecting the right of its residents to make reproductive health decisions, including abortion care.”
Under this resolution, Travis county will not direct funds to:
- “Store or catalog any report of an abortion, miscarriage, or other reproductive healthcare act;
- Provide information to any other governmental body or agency about any abortion, miscarriage, or other reproductive healthcare act, unless such information is provided to defend the patient’s right to abortion care or the healthcare provider’s right to provide that care; or
- Conduct surveillance or collect information related to an individual organization for the purpose of determining whether an abortion has occurred, except for aggregated data without personally identifying information or personal health information which is collected for purposes unrelated to criminal investigation, enforcement, or prosecution.”
On behalf of the Texas Freedom Caucus (TFC), state Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville) responded to the actions of Texas DAs and local governments in July. He wrote that TFC will pursue legislation next session that “empower[s] district attorneys from throughout the state to prosecute abortion-related crimes… when the local district attorney fails or refuses to do so.”
Abortion is set to be a hot-button issue in the November general election. Democrats for statewide office have made it a centerpiece of their campaigns, while Gov. Abbott has defended abortion laws as preventing “taking the life of a baby.”
An unsigned copy of the resolution can be found below.