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What Denton's resolution deprioritizing abortion investigations means for the city and its politics

UNT political science professor says the city's trend bluer is just due to its two universities.

DENTON, Texas — Denton City Council passed a resolution Tuesday night to direct the city’s police department to make enforcing Texas’ complete ban on abortion a lowest priority.

After a large rally and protest before the meeting, about 40 people signed up to talk on the resolution.

“We don’t need abortion clinics,” one speaker said. “If we can get them all shut down, this will be great.”

“I was raped when I was 5 years old. The childhood of sexual abuse I endured caused me to start my period at 9 and assaulted again at 12,” another speaker shared. “The fact that any of that should result in me being forced to carry a child is horrific.”

By a narrow 4-3 margin, the resolution passed. Austin has an ordinance design to keep police resources from being used to investigate abortions, but the Texas capital has been seen has as a center of Democrats voters for years.

Kimi Lynn King, a political science professor at UNT, said seeing Denton pass its ordinance in support of abortion rights, a democrat stance, is much more surprising.

“I think it’s really striking,” she said. “It’s almost as if coming out of the pandemic, people are out and energized.”

King says the 2014 battle over fracking is when the historically red city first started to become purple, following statewide trends towards the Democratic Party that started back in 2006.

“What you saw yesterday is a mobilization to turn out because everyone is highly energized right now,” she said. “We’ll see if that kind of enthusiasm continues forward into the fall.”

A police department spokesperson declined an interview to discuss the resolution and its impact.

“There are a great number of unanswered questions surrounding the implementation of the new law and until those are answered, any comment would be purely speculative,” the department said in a statement.

“As passionate as everyone has been on this issue, it doesn’t matter if this resolution passes or not,” councilman Jesse Davis said Tuesday night. “It just doesn’t make a difference.”

Councilwoman Alison Maguire, who is facing a recall in November, was behind the resolution.

“This resolution will clearly establish what our priorities are as a community and will communicate to future leadership that our residents do not want their tax dollars used to punish them for seeking medical care,” she said.

It’s still unclear what the measure will change in the city, but it's a sign the city itself has changed already.

“I would caution taking too much away from it,” King said. “But I would say it’s part of a growing trend that both Republicans and Democrats ignore at their peril.”

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