Austin council members seek funding for abortion access in city budget

City leaders in Austin are pushing to get funding which supports abortion assistance in next year's budget. 

This move is a direct response to Senate Bill 22, which prevents government agencies from directly supporting abortion providers. If adopted into the budget, the money would go to pro-choice advocacy groups which provide services for women seeking to get an abortion. 

"In Austin we believe and announce that everyone has a right to healthcare," Austin city council member Greg Casar said. "We believe and announce that abortion is healthcare and we refuse to back down on protecting our continuance basic rights.

Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza along with council members Casar, Leslie Pool, and Paige Ellis stood alongside pro-choice advocacy groups Monday to announce they will be seeking funding in next year's budget to help fund services for women seeking an abortion. 

"With the restrictions the state has put on legal abortion care, Texans everywhere including my continuance have had to delay care and it may even mean a legal abortion is out of their reach completely," said Garza.

The amount they are seeking is up to $150,000 and will be given to pro-choice organizations that provide services like transportation, counseling, lodging and childcare. 

"The state and the federal government has spent years trying to make legal abortion more expensive and more difficult to access," said Garza. "The results of their efforts falls disproportionally on marginalized communities like the ones I represent."

Those against this move from the council members say they are just using the city's budget as a political tool. 

"It's appalling that the city of Austin's policies is save the trees, kill the children," Senior Policy Analyst for Texas Values Nicole Hudgens said. "Clearly Austin is trying to circumvent the law and find different ways to kill children, and we think that's appalling and if they really want to help women and children they need to lower their property taxes and focus on things like that."

Pro-life advocates like Texas Values say people should be vocal about their concerns. 

"I think it's important for taxpayers to be voicing their concerns at the city council meetings and contacting their city council members directly because this will definitely affect them," said Hudgens.

The city plans to have several budget workshops and hearings in the upcoming weeks ahead of September 10, the day the final budget is adopted. If taken into next year's budget, organizations will have to apply through the city's health department in order to get the money.