Austin City Council passes GRACE Act

Austin City Council passes GRACE Act

Isabel Webb Carey
Isabel Webb Carey
|
July 25, 2022

The Austin City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to pass the GRACE Act, which is designed to protect access to abortion within Austin city limits after the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade last month.

GRACE – Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone – was proposed by Austin City Council members José “Chito” Vela and Vanessa Fuentes. It includes four resolutions that aim to protect abortions within the city of Austin. However, the municipal-level ordinances do not mean Austinites, or people seeking reproductive healthcare within Austin city limits, are legally protected from civil or criminal prosecution under Texas’ existing abortion bans. 

The act doesn’t provide a legal avenue for abortion seekers, but it could reduce enforcement efforts.The first resolution blocks discrimination based on individual reproductive health choices for housing or employment opportunities; the second prohibits the City from using public funds to compile or report information about miscarriages or other reproductive healthcare acts to other government agencies. This item also bans surveilling people seeking or providing abortions. The GRACE Act’s third resolution creates a framework for educating Austinites on “long-term birth control, including vasectomies,” and ensures healthcare for city employees covers “low-cost birth control, including vasectomies.” The fourth directs the Austin City Manager to approve benefits for City of Austin employees that would cover travel to other states to access abortion and other reproductive healthcare services. 

It will not supersede Texas law and will not prevent investigations. Moreover, experts predict that it will not survive challenges in the courts, specifically when faced with Dillon’s Rule, a late 19th-century legal precedent establishing that state laws supersede municipal laws, Jillson explained. So under Dillon’s Rule, the GRACE Act will likely topple when faced with legal challenges from the state of Texas.   

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Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey attends the University of Texas at Austin in the Plan II Honors Program with a certificate in Core Texts and Ideas. Her interests include education, local governance, sustainability, and equity. Isabel enjoys dancing, hiking, and live music. She is also a staff writer for the Texas Orator. Email her at isabelwebbcarey@gmail.com
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