EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A proposition that caused a heated discussion last year in the City Council chambers was now been voted on with a different outcome – in favor of creating a policy that would make investigating abortions the lowest priority for law enforcement in El Paso.
The resolution was brought by city Reps. Alexsandra Annello (District 2), Chris Canales (District 8) and Henry Rivera (District 7), receiving a nearly unanimous vote in favor.
District 4 representative Joe Molinar voted nay once again, while District 5 representative Isabel Salcido changed her mind this time around and voted yes.
Several dozen people spoke to the City Council voicing their concerns for both passing the motion or voting it down.
“Whether you think abortion is right or wrong, it’s about protecting your citizens,” one woman said.
The opposing side argued abortion is murder, many citing religious reasons and saying that the city does not have the authority to implement such a policy.
The proposition to create a policy that would protect the rights of pregnant people entails:
- Taxpayer dollars not to be used in efforts to criminalize people who seek or aid abortion
- City funds not to be used to solicit, catalog, report or investigate reports of abortion
- Police to make investigation of abortion their lowest priority
Salcido, along with a number of other citizens, questioned the legality of this policy, considering abortion is illegal in Texas.
“I wanted to make sure that all the legal concerns are answered before I can support this resolution,” Salcido said and asked City Attorney Karla Nieman to explain whether the policy interferes with the state’s law.
“The council is directing the city manager and city attorneys to come up with a policy that would abide with the state law,” Nieman said.
Annello later explained that this policy is within the local government’s power to make.
“It’s a statement of policy that provides guidelines for the city on how to prioritize abortion, of the abortion ban in the state law, among hundreds of other important and significant crimes. It does not conflict with the state’s designation that abortion is a crime and it does not prohibit the investigation of a crime,” Canales explained.
Canales also argued that several other cities in Texas, such as Austin, have implemented similar policies and have not had any legal action taken against them by the state attorney general.
The proposition and implementation of the policy will be revisited by the City Council on March 27 and later in May.
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