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City of Dallas resolution could help people seeking an abortion avoid a criminal record

Dobbs Protest cropped.jpg
Azul Sordo
/
KERA News
Protesters marched through Downtown Dallas hours after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights decision.

People in Dallas seeking an abortion could avoid a criminal record if the city council approves a resolution passed Tuesday.

The resolution would limit city employees from using city resources to investigate abortions. It was approved in a unanimous vote by the Quality of Life, Arts, and Culture Committee on Tuesday.

This was the Dallas' first step in joining other Texas cities like Denton and Austin that are trying to protect people seeking abortion services after Roe v. Wade was overturned earlier this year.

The next step is to get approval from the full city council.

"I think it's important for residents to know that the city of Dallas is going to stand with them and not go down the rabbit hole of political pandering to partisan politics that the state has chosen to go down,” said Council Member Adam Bazaldua, who chairs the committee.

Assistant city attorney Casey Burgess said that if the resolution is approved by the full council, no criminal record would be created if a person in Dallas is seeking an abortion.

“If a call does come in ... that gets lowest priority for police enforcement. That is not really high on the list for enforcement,” he said.

The resolution would prevent city resources from being used to "create any record of any information related to an individual seeking abortion, miscarriage, or any other event that could be prosecuted as a violation of state law, criminalizing or creating civil liability for pregnancy outcomes."

It also would prohibit city staff from providing information to any other governmental entities about pregnancy outcomes, unless it is needed to defend the patient’s right to reproductive care. It would not stop the use of city resources or technology to conduct any surveillance of people seeking abortion care.

Some council members said this resolution is about protecting civil rights.

"This resolution that instructs the city of Dallas to do everything in our power to protect women, families and doctors if they decide to perform an abortion,” said Council Member Chad West.

Bazaldua said people should have the right to make their own health care decisions.

"This is not a discussion of pro or anti-choice. This is a discussion of access to health care," Bazaldua said.

Got a tip? Email Alejandra Martinez at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.