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San Marcos police won't investigate abortions, official says

The side of a San Marcos police car
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
The San Marcos Police Department will not investigate an abortion case unless that abortion or attempted abortion results in the death or serious injury of the expectant mother.

The San Marcos Police Department is not devoting any resources to investigating abortions, Director of Public Safety Chase Stapp said during a City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Stapp said that the city's police chief, Stan Standridge, advised officers on the issue last month. According to a directive from Standridge, the San Marcos Police Department will not investigate an abortion case unless that abortion or attempted abortion results in the death or serious injury to the expectant mother.

“The intent of this administrative directive is to convey to the officers that we’re not expending city funds [or] human resources to investigate abortions," Stapp said. "We will always investigate deaths that occur that could have been the result of unlawful activity.”

In taking this step, San Marcos joins several other local governments in Texas that are weighing abortion rights in their communities after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June. Texas' "trigger law," which will ban nearly all abortions in the state and increase criminal and civil penalties associated with the procedure, goes into effect at the end of the month. Some cities are passing resolutions in support of reproductive rights and trying to decriminalize abortion within their city limits.

Last month, the City of Austin passed the Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone (GRACE) Act, which effectively decriminalizes abortion by asking law enforcement agencies to make the prosecution of abortion-seekers or providers a low priority.

San Marcos City Council Member Maxfield Baker said San Marcos Police Department's directive is comparable to Austin's GRACE Act.

"Everything is so new that our community members are afraid. They don’t know whether or not police officers are going to pursue this or where it's going to land on their priority list," Baker said. "I want to send the right message to our community that we have their backs, we’re looking out for them and that we share some of these concerns because we’re still in these uncertain times."

During a citizen comment period of Tuesday night's City Council meeting, a woman came forward and gave an emotional testimony, begging the City of San Marcos to facilitate more access to reproductive care. For her safety, KUT is not sharing her name.

"As I speak, I am still bleeding from an illegal abortion I had just last week,” she said through tears. “I did not find out I was pregnant until seven weeks because I was spotting during what I thought would have been my period. I went to the only free clinic I could find, which advertised itself to be bipartisan [and an] unbiased resource for all, but it turned out to be a pro-life, faith-based place with no actual local abortion options listed.”

She went on to say that, despite telling the clinic that she was in a verbally and emotionally toxic relationship, the staff still made her hear the heartbeat and tried convincing her to work things out with the father and to keep the baby. She eventually sought an abortion elsewhere.

"I’m still scared to get a medical checkup to make sure I passed the fetus properly and safely because I’m afraid they’ll arrest me for handling it the way that I had," she said. "I beg you that please consider other situations outside of the Heartbeat Bill, including facilitating more accessible reproductive care for our local citizens in all various circumstances outside of myself."

Council Member Jude Prather said that her testimony was "a warning for how this issue is going to affect people in" the city.

The council did not take any formal votes or adopt any official resolutions, but Mayor Jane Hughson, Council Member Baker and Council Member Alyssa Garza agreed to keep having discussions about how abortion rights play out in the Legislature and beyond.

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Riane Roldan is the Hays County reporter for KUT, focusing on the costs and benefits of suburban growth. Got a tip? Email her at rroldan@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @RianeRoldan.
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