EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – During Tuesday’s El Paso City Council meeting, members voted to establish a women’s commission.

The idea of a commission dedicated to protecting women’s rights came after the leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court suggesting it was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Nearly 50 people who ended up speaking during the public comment portion were from pro-life groups with some people from the pro-choice side weighing in as well.

Representative Claudia Rodriguez then questioned why this item was on El Paso City Council’s agenda, saying members don’t have any purview over what happens with the Supreme Court and their decision on abortion.

Mayor Oscar Leeser weighed in with an emotional comment, saying while he was against abortion, he was in favor of human rights.

Leeser tearfully shared his personal family’s story about a choice he and his wife faced 40 years ago with complications with her pregnancy, resulting in their daughter’s early birth by 10 weeks.

He said he believes people should have the right to make a choice, as his family did, saying his daughter is now turning 40 with four children.

The vote was 5-3, with representatives Joe Molinar, Claudia Rodriguez, and Cissy Lizarraga against and representatives Peter Svarzbien, Alexsandra Annello, Cassandra Hernandez, Isabel Salcido, and Henry Rivera in favor of the proposed commission.

Women have fought for generations to defend their rights. With more than 50% of our population being made up of women, the creation of this commission is long overdue and I am proud that its establishment was approved today…I thank my colleagues who voted to support my item on today’s agenda and look forward to continue to work with our City Manager and City Attorney on the creation of this commission to empower women in our community.”   

City Representative Henry Rivera, District 7.

City Representative Cassandra Hernandez, District 3 said she’s proud to have co-sponsored the item and is appreciative of her colleagues’ support to establish a City Women’s Commission.  

“Soon, likely legislative and judicial maneuvers at both the state and federal levels have the potential to rollback rights previously thought inviolable for women in our community,” Hernandez said. “It is therefore, critical that women have a stage at the local level to discuss the matters that affect them directly, whether it be in health, safety, business, childcare, equality, or access to resources. This is an opportunity for women to speak for themselves. This is our right.”  

“I am honored to have cosponsored item 13 to create a City of El Paso Women’s Commission that passed today…Last week, our community learned of a potential majority opinion draft from the United States Supreme Court about Roe V. Wade, that could also affect the legitimacy of same sex marriage. This Supreme Court decision would remove federal protection of all women and allow states to determine what women’s rights are. Over the last few years we have seen the State of Texas make harmful decisions towards women’s healthcare. I believe local governments play a huge role in fighting for her citizens from addressing the gender pay gap to women and trans healthcare. This commission’s work will be important because it will be giving women the right to be heard and the right for their representatives to fight for women in any way that we can. Having a women’s commission to educate and advocate for our community will only put us in a better position than we have been historically and allow us to make a positive impact for El Paso.” 

City Representative Alexsandra Annello, District 2

“After approving the creation of El Paso’s first Women’s Commission today during the City Council Meeting, I believe our City will be able to further promote, support and empower women to its fullest,” said City Representative Peter Svarzbein, District 1. “There are no barriers in the City of El Paso that can prevent us from becoming a better community.  We have learned to work together to achieve the impossible and what is best for our City.” 


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