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El Paso City Council votes down proposal to deprioritize abortion criminal investigations

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

Mayor Oscar Leeser cast the tie-breaking vote.

City Representatives Alexsandra Annello, Henry Rivera and Peter Svarzbein voted in favor.

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

An outpouring of anger and frustration filled the council chambers from people who supported the resolution. They then took to the streets chanting "recall Leeser."

Leeser later went back to the chambers and said the reason he voted 'no' was because they need to abide by state and federal law, "..and when it came to the vote that's the vote that I voted," said Leeser.

"We can write a resolution but at the end of the day we are required by law," said Leeser.

EL PASO, Texas -- The El Paso City Council is set to discuss and take action on protections for pregnant individuals' rights to bodily autonomy as part of the council's work session meeting on Tuesday.

City Representatives Alexsandra Annello and Henry Rivera are cosponsoring the agenda item to create an appropriate ordinance or policy regarding protections for pregnant people. Such protections include banning the use of taxpayer dollars or city funds to efforts to criminalize abortion or in any way investigate reports of abortions, as well as making such investigations among the lowest priorities of police officers.

This item is "intended to protect the right of privacy of individuals at the local level in response to the recent Supreme Court decision," Annello said in a statement.

This comes following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24.

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

“Enforcing pregnancy should not be anywhere near the duties of the City of El Paso or the El Paso Police Department. It only makes sense that with the recent passage of the City’s Women’s Commission that City Council takes additional steps to respect the privacy of women. This continued deterioration of women’s rights to privacy and control of their own bodies cannot be allowed to continue. El Paso cannot and should not be a tool of surveillance for any form of government against those who are making tremendous decisions in their life. This item looks to benefit the long-term health, safety, and quality of life of pregnant people,” Annello said.

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