Austin City Council Denounces Texas Abortion Ban And Votes To Back Lawsuits Against It

The Austin city council voted in favor of a resolution against Texas' controversial abortion ban. It also approved the use of city resources to fight the ban in court. This makes Austin the first state city to oppose the law.

Pro-abortion rights demonstrators march outside Texas State Capitol, September 1, 2021, Austin, Texas. The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Key Facts

On consent, the council approved the resolution. It denounces Texas' state leadership for passing Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), that prohibits almost all surgical abortions within six weeks of a woman's pregnancy. The resolution claims that SB 8 is in direct violation of the Constitution right to privacy. It was approved by consent at a council meeting. Austin's legal department has been directed to investigate and pursue the appropriate legal action to support litigation to overturn SB 8. This includes amicus briefs filed in lawsuits brought by abortion providers and U.S. Department of Justice. Austin will not sue Texas or become a plaintiff in ongoing litigation. Instead, the resolution will support existing lawsuits by filing legal briefs stating that the city supports the law being struck down. CBS Austin reports that only one council member voted in favor of the resolution. Another abstained due to objections to language not allowing women to choose.

Important Quote

This is unfair. It is unfair and, frankly, it is cruel. At a Wednesday press conference, Austin Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper–Madison stated that this is why we must be there. We must be there to stand up for them, to let them know that they are not alone, and that we will do our best to help them.

Chief Critic

Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion group that helped to draft SB 8 said Wednesday in a statement that the resolution was yet another example of Austin City Council’s abortion fanaticism. It also stated in a statement that the resolution was a juvenile and futile attempt to undermine the Texas Heartbeat Act. The city should instead support pregnant mothers and preborn babies who are in need.


Austin appears to be the only Texas city to have voted against SB 8. However, the Portland City Council has also voted against SB 8. In mid-September, the Portland City Council voted to send a letter supporting the Justice Department's attempt to defeat the law in court and to donate $200,000 for reproductive health services in Texas. However, the council voted against a ban on the import of goods and services from Texas. This was due to logistical concerns, and fear that the ban would penalize everyday Texans who were already hurt by SB 8.

Important Background

Since its implementation, SB 8 has been a hot topic in America. These laws on abortion have been the most severe in the United States since Roe v. Wade was ruled in 1973. SB 8 is unique in that it empowers private citizens to enforce the law and sue anyone who aids or abets abortions, unlike other state abortion restrictions which are overturned in court. According to Reuters, the law is expected to prevent approximately 85% of abortions in Texas. Meanwhile, clinics in neighboring States are reportedly crowded with Texans who travel hundreds of miles to get the procedure. The law's impact on Texas has been so devastating that only a fraction of patients are able to access the care they need. Texas-based OB/GYN Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, testified Thursday before the House Oversight Committee.

Continue reading

Austin council votes on resolution to support abortion access (CBS Austin).

Austin City Council members demonstrate commitment to abortion access and discuss resolution (KXAN).

Abortion Providers Ask Supreme Court To Hear Texas Abortion Case Again (Forbes)

Biden Administration Sues Texas Over Abortion Ban (Forbes)