The leaked draft document from the Supreme Court indicating that the landmark abortion ruling of Roe v. Wade would be overturned has drawn outrage across the country, particularly from the Democratic Party.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a practicing attorney in the areas of eminent domain and civil rights law for more than 30 years, was outspoken about what that ruling would mean for his constituents in the most liberal part of conservative-leaning Texas.
“Most of the people in our city are real concerned about this leaked opinion,” Adler said. “If Roe is going to go away, that seems [like] such a horrible thing after being law for such a long period of time. Our city has done everything that we can to help protect that right for women and to help everybody in our city be able to take advantage of this constitutional right.”
Though Texas has long been considered a red state, Austin has increasingly become more left-leaning: In the 2020 election, President Biden won 71.7% of the vote in Travis County, home to Austin.
“The state is trying to make it as hard as they can for anybody to be able to assist anybody taking advantage of this right,” Adler said. “But in Austin, where Roe v. Wade is so significantly supported, we’ve done things like supporting our area clinics by providing support for women so they can take advantage of their legal right, helping them with logistics and costs.”
Last year, city council members in Austin vowed to keep pushing for abortion access. The city contains only a handful of the Planned Parenthood clinics in the state that offer abortions.
“We’re doing everything we can as a municipality to make sure this right not only exists but is one that people can take advantage of,” Adler said. “It’s still the law right now. And we’ll continue to do everything we can. But we live in a state that’s trying to make it harder and harder all the time.”
'Harder for us to attract businesses'
Abortion rights have been a polarizing issue among Americans. A 2021 Gallup poll found that 58% opposed overturning the Roe v. Wade decision while 32% indicated support for the move.
If the Supreme Court decision were to officially go through, abortion access would be jeopardized in at least 32 U.S. states and territories. Other blue-voting states like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California have already passed laws on a state level to ensure that a Supreme Court ruling wouldn’t affect women’s access to abortion in their respective jurisdictions.
Greg Abbott, governor of Texas, passed several pieces of legislation in 2021 that include banning physicians and providers from providing abortion-inducing pills to women more than seven weeks pregnant, banning surgical abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, and allowing private citizens to sue those who assist women in obtaining an abortion, such as driving them to a clinic.
According to Adler, political moves like these end up damaging the reputation of cities that don’t necessarily adhere to the overall politics of the state, just like Austin. As a result, he said, some individuals become less inclined to want to move or even visit the area.
“I believe that the positions that are being taken by our state leadership with respect to abortion, with respect to transgender children, make it harder for us to attract businesses and make it a more difficult decision for people to decide to live here,” Adler said.
In Austin, he continued, “we try to stay true to who we are, and we recognize that what ultimately makes Austin attractive or the people that self-select to be here, there’s a different culture. There’s a different way that people view the world and each other in this city. And it’s really important that we maintain that and nurture that as an innovative, creative city with an incredibly high tolerance for taking risks.”
Adriana Belmonte is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow her on Twitter @adrianambells and reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.