The Pro-Life movement sues Austin over abortion industry funding

Last week, the Austin City Council decided to give the abortion industry taxpayer dollars for providing ‘logistical assistance’ to women seeking abortions in Austin.  Now, the abortion industry is receiving some ironic justice. Don Zimmerman, an Austin resident and former Councilmember, is suing the City of Austin for abetting the abortion industry’s practice of killing preborn children.  If Zimmerman’s lawsuit is successful, Austin would not have the legal authority to shovel $150,000 dollars to pro-abortion organizations, like the council has planned in their new budget.

This admirable lawsuit is a welcome role reversal. Ordinarily, in Texas, the abortion industry initiates a legal challenge against almost any Pro-Life law enacted by the Texas Legislature.  There are currently four pro-abortion lawsuits challenging Texas Pro-Life policies. In fact, one of these lawsuits — aptly termed the “Shotgun Lawsuit” — challenges nearly every Pro-Life Texas statute on the books.  Now, rather than playing defense, the Pro-Life movement is proactively taking the fight directly to some of the abortion industry’s most exasperating and determined promoters: Austin City Council and Mayor Steve Adler. 

Austin City Council’s determination that taxpayers should support the destruction of preborn life appears to be motivated by two factors.  The first is that the Texas Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 22, which prohibits state and local taxpayer dollars from funding or benefiting abortion providers and their affiliates.  Notwithstanding any current contracts, SB 22 prevents Austin from continuing the city’s longstanding practice of peddling money and business to Planned Parenthood. However, under Austin’s newly-passed initiative, only organizations that assist with logistical services around abortion are eligible for funding, thereby skirting the specific restraints of SB 22. 

The second motivation is that other cities throughout Texas are making a concerted effort to become “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn.”  While these towns desire to protect otherwise defenseless preborn children by barring abortion businesses from setting up shop within their city limits, Austin City Council would prefer to marshal vulnerable mothers directly into the grasp of the abortion industry.  This juxtaposition is revealing — and particularly damning for Texas’ capital. 

Zimmerman’s lawsuit against Austin is refreshing.  If his challenge prevails, Austin will not be able to support organizations whose sole mission is to pay for and abet elective abortions.  While Austin’s pro-abortion expenditures do not violate the letter of Senate Bill 22, they do in fact violate 2A Texas Penal Code article 1192 (1961), which prohibits “furnish[ing]the means for procuring an abortion knowing the purpose intended.”  The Supreme Court of the United States has not formally injoined this law, but has only prohibited the application of the law in ways that impose an “undue burden” upon a woman seeking an abortion. And as the lawsuit contends, “any applications of article 1192 that violate the Supreme Court’s abortion edicts are severable from the applications that do not,” meaning that while parts of the law may be unenforceable, the rest are not. 

The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the City of Austin and Mayor Adler, and argues doing so with still consistent with the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence. SCOTUS has long recognized that pregnant women do not have a constitutional right to taxpayer assistance in procuring an abortion.  The lawsuit concludes that because State law prohibits “furnish[ing]the means” to an abortion, Austin’s use of taxpayer dollars is illegal and “in defiance of state law.” 

Apart from the legal questions, it is entirely unethical for Austin to use taxpayer dollars to benefit the abortion industry.  Abortion does not liberate women; abortion is not healthcare. Rather, every abortion requires the willful destruction of an innocent human life. Austin should not become conspirators in this grave and oppressive injustice. Instead, local governments should seek to support women by bolstering the relationships between mothers and their children, born and preborn.  Zimmerman’s brave lawsuit is a reminder that for the good of preborn children and their mothers, Pro-Life Texans must not tolerate the taxpayer subsidization of the unethical destruction of human life.