Austin, Texas is making it easier for women to get abortions. It's now the first US city to fund abortion support services.
This includes things like travel, lodging, counseling, and childcare.
Members of the Austin City Council voted Tuesday night to give $150,000 to the cause. They say its purpose is to remove barriers that might otherwise keep low-income women from getting abortions.
Texas law SB22 bars any financial relationships between cities and abortion providers. It went into effect last week.
Council Member Jimmy Flanagan was the only council member who voted against the measure. He said that this should be a county responsibility rather than a city budget measure. All other council members, including the mayor, voiced their support of the initiative.
Pro-life advocates slammed the city council's move to try to bypass state law.
"It's appalling that the city of Austin doubled down on its policies to 'save the trees, kill the children,'" Nicole Hudgens, director of policy at the anti-abortion group Texas Values, told media outlets after the amendment passed. "
Hudgens called the amendment a "political stunt attempting to circumvent the law." She said if the city wants to help women they should lower taxes.
The amendment comes in the wake of SB 22, the state bill authored by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels). SB 22 bans contracts between abortion providers and affiliates and government entities. In Travis County alone, Planned Parenthood, which operates two local abortion facilities, has lost more than $1 million in contracts with the City of Austin and the Travis County Hospital District.
"I'm not surprised The City of Austin would manipulate a recently passed law (SB 22) to use taxpayer dollars to pay for transportation and lodging to those seeking an abortion," Campbell said in an email to the Texas Tribune.
Likewise, the Texas Alliance for Life is also opposed to the budget amendment.
"There are more than 20 wonderful agencies in the greater Austin area that help a woman who has a crisis pregnancy with alternatives to abortion, including adoption," said Executive Director Joe Pojman, Ph.D. in a press release. "We would have preferred the council spend the money to help low-income women utilize these life-affirming agencies."
A link to those resources is available at PregnancyCentralTexas.com.
This news out of Austin comes as states across the country pass legislation to restrict abortion.
Right now in Texas, abortion is legal up until 20 weeks of pregnancy.