Pro-Life advocates launched a third lawsuit today against the City of Austin for illegally attempting to spend taxpayer funds on expenses related to abortion. David Walls, Alan Higginbotham, and Jerri Lynn Ward brought the third lawsuit after Austin City Council cut police funding in the 2021 budget and gave $250,000 to abortion-assistance organizations.
Austin City Council’s financial support of the murder of innocent preborn children is unsurprising given their long-standing support for abortion. For years, the council allowed Planned Parenthood to rent city property for $1 a year, which led the Texas Legislature to pass a law last year prohibiting state and local governments from funding or contracting with abortion businesses. Now, the city cannot pay for abortions directly but circumvented the law by subsidizing organizations that cover expenses related to the abortion, like transportation, lodging, childcare, and legal services. Last year, the City of Austin allocated $150,000 for such services and contracted with Jane’s Due Process, an anti-Life organization that exploits underage girls by showing them how to obtain abortions without their parents’ involvement. Pro-Life Austinite Don Zimmerman immediately sued, followed by Texas Right to Life Legislative Director John Seago. Now, with the increased funding to $250,000 for 2021, Walls, Higginbotham, and Ward have filed a third lawsuit to stop this illegal use of taxpayer money.
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The funding scheme violates Texas law and the state constitution, which prohibits cities from enacting ordinances that are “inconsistent” with the “general laws enacted by the Legislature of this State.” This includes the state’s pre–Roe v. Wade abortion statutes, which have never been repealed, and which impose criminal liability on anyone who “furnish[es] the means for procuring an abortion knowing the purpose intended.” The budget also violates state law because the expenditure “encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the commission of a criminal offense,” as the law of Texas continues to define abortion as a criminal act unless the mother’s life is in danger. The Supreme Court’s current unwillingness to enforce these statutes on account of Roe v. Wade does not change the fact that abortion remains a criminal offense under Texas law, and the city cannot spend tax dollars in violation of these statutes because there is no constitutional right to taxpayer funding of abortion.
Austin’s “abortion access” funding also violates the gift clause of the Texas Constitution, which prohibits transfers of public funds to private entities unless the payment serves a legitimate public purpose and affords a clear public benefit received in return. Spending taxpayer money on abortions does not promote a public purpose but rather benefits private parties that profit off of the destruction of innocent human Life.
Austin City Council’s brazen and hostile disregard for women and children is a dark mark on the City of Austin and the State of Texas. Providing hundreds of thousands of dollars to eliminate vulnerable preborn children is an ethical catastrophe.
Texas Right to Life thanks David Walls, Alan Higginbotham, and Jerri Lynn Ward in addition to Don Zimmerman and John Seago for standing up to Austin City Council’s unhealthy and illegal obsession with abortion. Pro-Life taxpayers, and preborn children especially, deserve better.