AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin City Council on Thursday unanimously passed the GRACE Act, which is designed to protect access to abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down federal protections.
Proposed by Austin City Council members José “Chito” Vela and Vanessa Fuentes, the act doesn’t decriminalize abortion in the city but is aimed at providing a workaround of sorts. Texas has a law in place banning the procedures at about six weeks into pregnancy and an existing trigger law will all but outlaw it following the high court’s decision.
GRACE stands for Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone.
While the act doesn’t provide a legal avenue for abortion seekers, it could reduce enforcement efforts. According to a news release explaining the act, it is a policy recommendation that calls for the following:
- City funds not be used to solicit, catalog, report, or investigate reports of abortion
- Police make investigating abortion their lowest priority
GRACE Act is strictly a policy recommendation and under Texas law City Council cannot dictate to any city employee how to handle a criminal case. However, it makes clear City Council’s preference that city funds not be used to investigate abortion and that such cases receive low priority.
It’s further noted that the GRACE Act will not supersede Texas law and will not prevent investigations as much as deprioritize them.