Austin cuts police budget, increases abortion funding

shutterstock 494317324 Texas State Capitol building in Austin. / Shutterstock

The Diocese of Austin has condemned the Austin City Council's decision to increase funding for abortion access in the city while partially defunding the city's police department. 

On August 13, the Austin City Council voted to reduce the city's $423 million police budget by $150 million, or by just over a third. That money will be redistributed to various other causes, including violence prevention and housing assistance--as well as increased funding for "logistics" associated with abortion access. 

A total of $250,000 in the 2021 budget was earmarked for "abortion access." The city of Austin has a contract with Jane's Due Process, an abortion-rights organization in Texas that assists minors with obtaining abortions without parental consent. Last year, the city's contract with Jane's Due Process was for $150,000. 

Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin said he was "deeply concerned and disappointed" that the city council had increased the amount allocated for abortion assistance. 

"This decision shows a severe disregard and exploitation of the unborn that could have serious consequences throughout our community," he said.

Texas law prohibits the use of taxpayer money to pay for abortions. The money earmarked in the 2021 budget for "abortion access" will be used for transportation to an abortion clinic, a hotel stay during the state-mandated waiting period, or for legal services. It will not be spent on the actual procedure. 

Vasquez warned that "abortion increasingly desnsitizes our society to accept these evil acts that destroy human life," and said that "this decision of the Austin City council will further enable these damaging consequences and cause thousands of tax paying citizens to cooperate in an immoral act without their consent."

The bishop called the move an "unnecessary action" in the city council's larger effort to "address the root causes of crime by investing city funds in community safety and wellness programs." Increasing the money earmarked for abortion assistance "ultimately results in an attack on the most innocent and vulnerable--the unborn."  

Lauren Enriquez, communications manager of the pro-life organization Live Action, told CNA the decision to shift funding priorities was not helpful to the people of Austin. 

"It is horrifying that the city officials entrusted with the care of their constituents would take taxpayer money allocated to protecting the innocent and divert it to operations that support killing the innocent," Enriquez told CNA. 

"This is the kind of subversion and corruption that the abortion industry breeds." 

Austin Mayor Steve Adler rejected the idea that the city council had cut $150 million from the police budget, saying instead that he believes they "did something transformative." 

In an interview with local news, Adler said that the departments that had been cut from the police budget, such as a forensics lab, will be handled by an independent, civilian board that works with the district attorney. 

Former Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, who launched his presidential campaign in front of the Catholic church where he was baptized, praised the funding decision by Austin. 

"Glad to see the Austin City Council leading the way to reimagine public safety," said Castro. "This budget will enhance community safety and improve quality of life, without over-relying on armed police officers."

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