Don Zimmerman Files Suit Against City Over Abortion Services Funding

It's unclear if the former council member remembers Roe v. Wade

Don Zimmerman, hopefully showing himself the door (Photo by John Anderson)

Just a day after the City Council passed a budget that includes first-in-the-nation city funding to help residents connect with abortion support services, former Council Member Don Zimmerman filed a civil lawsuit against the city to block the funding from going through.

The $150,000 line item in the budget is an attempt by the city to get around a repressive new law, Senate Bill 22, passed during the recent Legislative session that bars taxpayer dollars from being sent to abortion providers.

A sweetheart lease deal with the Planned Parenthood clinic in East Austin on city-owned land was threatened by the law, but it did not apply retroactively, so the $1 annual lease was allowed to continue through 2039. However, new Sex Education curriculum that Austin ISD considered, written by the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, was abandoned to avoid violating the new law. In spite of the law’s attempts to ward local governments away from helping residents access the legal procedure, Austin’s City Council took a stand by helping women in need of abortion services travel to clinics, instead of directly paying for the service.

Zimmerman and other pro-life hardliners have not been pleased with the Council’s clever skirting of the law. His suit, filed Sept. 12, alleges that the new funding would violate state law that levies criminal penalties against anyone that “furnishes the means for procuring an abortion knowing the purpose intended.” Of course, that statute ignores Roe v. Wade, which legalized access to abortion services throughout the nation.

The suit argues that even though the state law (Texas Penal Code article 1192) cited is unconstitutional, it’s still on the books and thus, the City is in violation. “When a court declares a law unconstitutional,” the suit reads, “the law remains in place unless and until the body that enacted it repeals it, even though the government may no longer constitutionally enforce it.”

In a statement sent Wednesday, CM Greg Casar called out the laughable legal reasoning from Zimmerman. “I didn’t know if I was reading a lawsuit or if it was a satire piece in The Onion.,” Casar said. “The lawsuit reads like Zimmerman just stepped out of a misogynist time machine, and he doesn’t realize that things like abortion, interracial marriage, and birth control are suddenly all legal now.”

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Reproductive Rights, Don Zimmerman, Senate Bill 22, Greg Casar, Planned Parenthood

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