El Paso City Council votes against proposal not to prioritize criminal abortion investigations

UPDATE: A resolution to deprioritize abortion investigations by the El Paso Police Department did not pass, the El Paso City Council voted 5-4 against the article.

Mayor Oscar Leeser cast the deciding vote.

City representatives Alexsandra Annello, Henry Rivera and Peter Svarzbein voted in favour.

While Representatives Joe Molinar, Isabel Salcido, Claudia Rodriguez, Cissy Lizarraga voted against.

A wave of anger and frustration swept through the council chamber from those who supported the resolution. They then took to the streets chanting “recall Leeser”.

Leeser later returned to the chambers and said the reason he voted “no” was because they had to abide by state and federal laws, “…and as far as voting goes, that’s the vote I voted,” Leeser said.

“We can draft a resolution, but ultimately we’re bound by law,” Leeser said.

EL PASO, Texas — The El Paso City Council is set to discuss and take action on protecting pregnant women’s bodily autonomy rights as part of the council’s business meeting on Tuesday.

City Representatives Alexsandra Annello and Henry Rivera are co-sponsoring the agenda item to create an appropriate ordinance or policy regarding the protection of pregnant persons. These protections include prohibiting the use of taxpayers’ money or city funds to criminalize abortion or in any way investigate abortion reports, as well as making such investigations one of of the lowest priorities of the police.

This section is “intended to protect the privacy rights of individuals at the local level in response to the recent Supreme Court decision,” Annello said in a statement.

This follows the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24.

On June 16, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law HB 1280, making abortion a first-degree felony. This law goes into effect 30 days after the overturning of Roe v. Wade and makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

“Pregnancy enforcement shouldn’t come close to the duties of the City of El Paso or the El Paso Police Department. It makes sense that with the recent passing of the city’s Women’s Commission, City Council take additional steps to respect women’s privacy. This continued deterioration of women’s rights to privacy and control over their own bodies cannot continue. El Paso cannot and must not be a tool surveillance for any form of government against those who make important decisions in their lives. This article appears to benefit the long-term health, safety and quality of life of pregnant women,” Annello said.

Mark M. Gagnon