City Hall

Dallas City Council Set to Vote on Proposal to Restrict Use of Resources to Investigate Abortions

Kate Pezzulli
The proposal follows similar moves in Austin and Denton.
The Dallas City Council will vote Wednesday on a resolution that would limit the use of city resources to investigate abortion-related criminal cases.

The resolution was proposed by members of the Quality of Life, Arts and Culture Committee, who voted in an Aug. 2 special session to bring the resolution to the full council for a vote.

The proposed reproductive rights resolution states that “access to safe and legal abortion is a major factor in the long-term health, safety, and quality of life of pregnant people.”

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that protected abortion rights. Texas' 2021 "trigger law" will go into effect within weeks, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has said that a pre-Roe abortion ban is already in effect.

The city's proposal includes some exceptions. For instance, city employees wouldn't be barred from providing information about abortions or other pregnancy outcomes if it's done in order to comply with state or federal law. Additionally, city employees could pass on such information in cases where it's done to protect reproductive rights.

Speaking by phone, Dallas City Council member and chair of the committee Adam Bazaldua called prosecuting abortions "an infringement on one's privacy and rights that we should be trying to protect and guard.

"It's important to emphasize the fact that we have much more important things to spend our resources on within the Dallas Police Department."

This proposal is similar to Austin’s GRACE Act, which stands for "Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone." That was passed on July 21. Denton also voted to pass a similar proposal deprioritizing enforcement of abortion laws in June.

Reached for comment, the Dallas District Attorney’s Office referred the Observer to two press releases and said that they had no further comment beyond them at this time.

The first release from June 24 was a statement from the Dallas DA John Creuzot stating his intention to continue using discretion in pursuing justice on behalf of all Dallas citizens and his assurance that his office will not stand in the way of women seeking healthcare.

“Bans on abortion disproportionately impact the poor, women of color and other vulnerable populations, and endanger public safety,” the statement reads. “Which goes against the very core of policies I was elected to put in place.”

The second reiterates Creuzot’s condemnation of criminalizing abortions, adding that using an interpretation of murder that has no grounding in the law to punish women is “beyond the pale and will have devastating consequences.”

“Women will be afraid to seek medical treatment even if they are dying,” the release continued. “We cannot condone such cruelty or this distorted use of our criminal legal system. And we promise to continue fighting for the rights of women in this state and elsewhere and using our discretion as prosecutors to avoid these tragic results.”

Meanwhile, Tarrant County DA Sharen Wilson has said she intends to prosecute abortion law violations. “Prosecutors do not make the law — we follow it,” Wilson wrote on Twitter in July. “We followed Roe v. Wade when it was the law and we will follow Texas state law now.”