Denton passed a resolution late Tuesday night that would affirm a woman’s right to private healthcare decisions and de-prioritze the enforcement of abortion laws in the wake of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
The vote came late Tuesday night after over two hours of impassioned comments from audience members on both sides of the abortion debate.
The council was divided in passing the resolution 4-3, with several council members objecting to the fact that the public was not able to see the final version.
Denton Mayor Gerard Hudspeth was among those who voted against the resolution.
“I am going to vote no. I am not excited about this,” Hudspeth said. “When did we get it in the work session today? We could have disseminated it to everyone. ... I’m not going to violate my oath of office. We are in uncharted territory.”
However, council member Alison Maguire, who presented the resolution, said that the changes were minor and had nothing to do with the resolution’s intent.
Maguire previously said the resolution affirms an individual’s right to make private health care decisions. It also de-prioritizes enforcement and investigations of the abortion law, she said.
Council member Chris Watts, who voted against the resolution, echoed Hudspeth in voicing his displeasure about the way it was pushed through.
“This is not about abortion, this is about a process,” Watts said. “This isn’t how we do government in this city. Good grief, look what it’s doing to our country.”
The council’s vote followed an abortion rights protest outside City Hall on Tuesday evening. Hundreds of people showed up, including some counter-protesters who were armed and wore masks.
One fight broke out as police escorted one of the counter-protesters away from the rally.
Kamyon Conner, the executive director of the Texas Equal Access Fund and one of the protest organizers who also spoke during the council meeting, said, “Do you hear the chants outside? They are a plea for help.”
But others spoke up against the resolution.
“We need to let people know that this is a city of laws. If you don’t like it, you can go and re-vote,” Geannie Howell said.