Houston mayor says abortion-related investigations are 'lowest priority'

Pooja Lodhia Image
Friday, September 2, 2022
Houston won't prioritize abortion ban enforcement, mayor says
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the city won't prioritize investing resources into seeking out violators of the state abortion ban.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston city leaders announced they are de-prioritizing abortion-related investigations.

Texas law punishes those who are caught performing abortions with life in prison and huge fees, except in narrow cases.

"First and foremost, the city of Houston will not prioritize utilizing resources to create any record used against those experiencing miscarriages, seeking abortions, or any other pregnancy outcome," Mayor Sylvester Turner said. "Assault, rapes, domestic abuse. Those are the things that are critically important and that's where our resources need to be directed."

Turner also announced an executive order, promising legal protection to medical professionals who are afraid to treat complicated pregnancies.

"Physicians have to consult legal counsel before providing care to their patients, when they know what the right thing is to do, when they know the evidence-based state of the art medical answer is, they are being prevented, or having to second guess," Dr. Lori Choi, the chair of the healthcare subcommittee for the Houston Women's Commission, said. "People might consider not practicing here in Houston, Texas."

This is exactly one year since Senate Bill 8 took effect, which essentially banned abortions after six weeks and allows private citizens to sue those who help others get abortions.

According to Planned Parenthood, from last September to this June, when most abortions were banned from the moment of fertilization, health centers in states surrounding Texas saw a 550% increase in patients from Texas.

SEE ALSO: Biden administration can't force Texas hospitals to provide emergency abortions, judge rules

In June 2022, Planned Parenthood data shows Texas patients traveled an average of more than 400 miles for abortion care. That's more than four times the average distance Texan patients traveled for abortions last June.

"It is what it is. We cannot supersede it, but we certainly can prioritize how resources will be used in this city," Turner explained.

Eyewitness News reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton for comment, but did not hear back on Thursday.

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