Eight organizations, primarily based in San Antonio, have recently filed a lawsuit against the city in response to a controversial $500,000 allocation in its recently approved budget aimed at supporting nonprofits that provide reproductive care. This fund, known as the Reproductive Justice Fund, was established in September during the final stages of the city’s $3.7 billion operating budget for the upcoming year. Notably, City Council member Marc Whyte cited the fund as the reason for voting against the budget on September 14. Meanwhile, Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez expressed his hope that the funds would be utilized to cover travel expenses for out-of-state abortions, particularly given Texas’ current crackdown on such procedures.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday by organizations including the San Antonio Family Association (SAFA) and Texas Right to Life, alleges that San Antonio is engaging in illegal conduct within Texas by facilitating drug-induced abortions, even if the actual procedures occur out of state. This lawsuit is believed to be the first of its kind targeting the Reproductive Justice Fund in San Antonio. Patrick Von Dohlen, a board member of SAFA, stated, “The women and families of San Antonio who are facing a crisis pregnancy, and local taxpayers trying to make ends meet, do not deserve to be victims of city officials.” Additionally, John Seago, the president of Texas Right to Life, expressed concerns that the fund would provide financial support to criminal organizations, as these organizations have previously violated Texas law.
Jaymie Cobb, the interim Executive Director of Jane’s Due Process, one of the organizations named in the lawsuit, mentioned that they were anticipating using the funds to assist teenage girls in funding travel expenses for out-of-state abortions. She emphasized their determination to continue fighting for their cause. In a related development, in February, a federal judge ruled that Texas abortion funds, which cover travel and procedures conducted out of state, were likely to be safe from criminal prosecution. Nevertheless, Seago expressed his hope that a judge would declare the actions of organizations like Jane’s Due Process to be illegal.
District 10 councilman Marc Whyte, who abstained from voting on the city’s annual budget due to his opposition to the fund, called the lawsuit predictable. He firmly believes that the city government should not be involved in funding access to abortions. In response to the lawsuit, city officials expressed their disappointment that taxpayer money would be used to fight against it. City Attorney Andy Segovia clarified that no decision had been made regarding the utilization of the funds. The City Council plans to hold an open work session to discuss the distribution of the funds, which will be managed by the city’s Metro Health Department, in accordance with state and federal laws.
The lawsuit includes co-plaintiffs such as Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Bexar County Republicans, the Allied Women’s Center of San Antonio, San Antonio Coalition for Life, and United San Antonio. It also lists Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Manager Erik Walsh as codefendants. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent the city from providing funds to abortion rights groups, including Jane’s Due Process and the Buckle Bunnies Fund. Additionally, it seeks compensatory damages and a declaration that the Reproductive Justice Fund violates state law.