On June 7, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 22, the No Taxpayer Dollars to Abortion Providers Act, into law—now effective since Sept. 1. Passed by the Texas Senate Affairs Committee on March 20, SB 22 protects taxpayers from subsidizing abortion providers and prohibits “advocacy or lobbying by or on behalf of a government entity on behalf of the interests of an abortion provider or affiliate.”
This bill does not apply to state hospitals, offices of physicians that perform 50 or fewer abortions in any 12-month period, teaching hospitals of higher education institutions, and residency programs providing training to resident physicians. The new law also does not affect any federal funds like Medicaid from going to the abortion industry in Texas.
Since Abbott signed the bill into law, some have complained that SB 22 does not apply to contracts signed before Sept. 1. Contracts including a Planned Parenthood facility’s 20 year long ‘sweetheart deal’ with the city of Austin—a one dollar annual lease of a historic East Austin property to Planned Parenthood. Supporters of SB 22 advocated for the bill in hopes that Austin residents would not have to continue subsidizing the abortion provider for the rest of the duration of the sweetheart deal.
According to Texas Values, Planned Parenthood’s one-dollar-a-year lease over the 20-year span represents at least a $4 million tax break for the abortion giant, $4 million that could have gone to basic things such as public schooling and comprehensive healthcare facilities that provide services Planned Parenthood does not, such as prenatal care and mammograms. While the bill does not stop Austin residents from subsidizing the Planned Parenthood facility for the rest of the contract with Austin, it does prevent the renewal of the contract.
In response, Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza and Austin City Council Members Greg Casar, Leslie Pool, and Paige Ellis pursued to find loopholes within the newly passed law. Then, on September 10, Austin’s city council approved a budget amendment setting aside $150,000 taxpayer funds to assist women in Austin seeking abortions with related logistical costs such as transportation and lodging. This would make the Texas capital the first city in the U.S. to publicly fund logistical support for abortion care.
Austin Council Member Jimmy Flanagan, the only council member who opposed the amendment, expressed his concern that this should be a county council responsibility rather than a city budget measure. The amendment does not allow for the direct funding of abortions.
In addition, now a total of three cities in the state of Texas—Waskom, Omaha, and Naples—have declared themselves “sanctuary cities of the unborn,” outlawing abortion within their city limits.
On June 11, the city of Waskom, Texas, became the first in the nation to ban abortion”. Waskom’s city council voted to make abortion a criminal offense by way of a resolution and ordinance after Mark Lee Dickson, director of Right to Life of East Texas, presented the idea to the council. Not only was the vote unanimous, but the completely packed city hall meeting was also full of those in favor of the decision. Exceptions include rape, incest, and if the pregnancy, as certified by a physician, places the woman in danger of death or a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless an abortion is performed.
Dickson, one of the authors of the ordinance, said to KTBS3, “This is something that has teeth that will actually allow the city of Waskom to protect [it]self from having an abortion clinic here whether that is one that comes from the North, the East, wherever — Waskom will be protected.”
The cities of Omaha and Naples followed suit on September 9, Omaha passing their ordinance unanimously and Naples with a 5-1 vote.
The Mayor of Omaha had expressed some concern that, without a law preventing the opening of an abortion clinic in the City of Omaha, an abortion clinic could possibly move into the city and set up shop in an abandoned clinic. Mayor Pewitt was right for recognizing that this was an appropriate action for this city to take.
These, along with the Born Alive Act signed into Texas law—which requires doctors to treat infants born alive in the instance of a failed abortion attempt—on May 23, have given the pro-life movement many victories in the past summer alone despite some pushback.
Editor’s Note: Angelique Lopez is the president of Tigers for Life. Photo by Angelique Lopez.