The nation's harshest criminal penalties on abortion are included in the state's so-called "trigger law," which will take effect 30 days after a Supreme Court ruling. Even though abortion is not currently a criminal offense in Texas, a woman was arrested and charged with murder last month after allegedly self-inducing an abortion.

If an unborn child dies as a result of the offense, the law will make it a first-degree felony, with up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine. The exception is only used to save the life of the pregnant person.

The new resolution doesn't explicitly decriminalize abortion, but rather directs police to make it their lowest priority in order to skirt conflict with state law. The tension between red state and blue state is highlighted by the upcoming Supreme Court decision on abortion rights.

The city of Austin is prepared to take the steps necessary to implement this resolution once it is passed by the City Council.

Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon is having ongoing conversations with Vela about the proposal and he hopes the department will comply with the directive. A department spokesman didn't respond to a request for comment.

The police don't want to be in the middle of the controversy. The police in Austin are having a hard time with staffing.

A person for the state Attorney General did not respond to the request for comment. Since the state's six-week abortion ban took effect in September of 2021, it has been at the forefront of restricting abortion access.

Austin's proposal is an extension of the city's efforts to preserve abortion access despite the state's restrictions. The city has provided logistical support for abortion access, including transportation, lodging and child care, since 2019.

There are more cities in Texas. Ground Game Texas, a group that pushes for progressive, local ballot measures, is looking at pushing similar measures in San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. The group will turn to the local ballot initiative process if that isn't successful.

Home rule charter cities have a lot of flexibility and self-governance, which is why they prioritize certain laws.

A professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School said that local officials who support abortion rights in states where access is in jeopardy may have an important role to play.

In Pennsylvania, abortion is likely to remain legal because the Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf promised to veto any Republican-passed bans.

We live in a state where abortion is legal in the short term, at least after the Supreme Court makes a decision. Our legislature is totally divided. The legislature is red, so they wouldn't be able to pass anything.