DALLAS — Dallas City councilmembers almost unanimously passed the "Grace Act," an ordinance aimed at deprioritizing investigations into abortions by local police departments.
The measure passed 12-1 with only one "no" vote cast by District 10 Councilmember B. Adam McGough. Three city councilmembers, Cara Mendehlson, Chad West and Jesus Moreno, were absent from the Wednesday morning meeting where the vote took place.
This resolution comes after similar resolutions were passed both in Denton and Austin in response to the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, which made possible for the state's "trigger law" to take effect Aug. 25.
The law will increase penalties for Texas abortion providers, deeming abortions to be a felony which can be a punishment of up to life in a sentence and a $100,000 fine for any doctor who performs one, without exception for rape or incest. The only exception is if the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother.
This new resolution prevents city resources from being used to create records for a person seeking an abortion, or to provide governmental bodies or agencies about pregnancy outcomes or to conduct surveillance to determine if an abortion occurred.
Investigations or prosecutions of abortion allegations will also be the lowest priority for law enforcement under the "Grace Act."
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia was in attendance for the City Council meeting and was asked before the ordinance passed how the Dallas Police Department would enforce the resolution while complying with their sworn oath to enforce state law.
"We don't know yet," Garcia said plainly. "Myself and other chiefs in other cities don't know exactly how this is going to look."
Once DPD gets some direction from other cities or the state, Garcia said he would work with the city manager to figure out what standard operating procedures will be with the new resolution in mind.
"Having a policy that says you will not enforce a law on the books would be a violation of our police officer's oath," Garcia said. "Using discretion is different than saying you will not enforce a law in the State of Texas."
"By passing the abortion resolution, Dallas City Council put unborn lives in danger and recklessly compromised the oath law enforcement officers have taken to uphold the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas. This political posturing puts the city on shaky legal ground and potentially wastes thousands of taxpayer dollars while denying science and hurting women," said Jonathan Covey, director of policy for Texas Values.