Sides clash as Waco looks at GRACE Act

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 9:29 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Pro-lifers and pro-choicers clashed Tuesday night as the City of Waco looks into becoming a GRACE Act city.

The GRACE Act is the Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone Act, which would limit city funding and deprioritize the enforcement of the state’s abortion laws.

Although it wasn’t technically on the agenda, the debate over essentially decriminalizing abortion in Waco got heated before the meeting even started.

About 500 people attended the meeting.

People had to separate into different overflow rooms, one room for pro-life advocates and another room for pro-choice advocates, at the Waco Convention Center after a fight nearly broke out between the two sides.

Once separated, Waco officials counted around 280 in the pro-life room and around 60 in the pro-choice room, and there were 155 people in the Waco council chambers.

Supporters said if the city council would approve the GRACE Act or something like it, they would be proud.

“Waco needs to take steps like that, Waco is behind,” said Deuce Moore, Waco resident and pro-choice advocate. “It (the act) just really helps in a way because whenever the police aren’t prioritizing that (investigating abortion violations), one: we can focus on the things we need to deal with here, I grew up in this community, and this community has issues bigger than that.”

However, opponents of the act say there’s no issue bigger than life, and they worry Waco will join cities like Austin which became a GRACE city last month.

“We want to take a stance before it becomes a thing in Waco, that’s not the Waco that I want or our members want,” said Patty Castillo, McLennan County Republican Women President. “We are here because we don’t want Waco to fall in line with other cities that have avoided and eliminated the rule of law.”

Joining the hundreds of residents with opinions were elected officials and political candidates.

Texas House Rep. Charles ‘Doc’ Anderson, R-56, says his constituents are against the GRACE Act and Waco needs to follow the state law banning abortion.

“We passed that law through the legislative process,” said Anderson. “In my opinion that’s not American, it’s not Texan really, to encourage people to circumvent the law.”

McLennan County’s Republican candidate for District Attorney, Josh Tetens, says he doesn’t think the act is enforceable and, if elected, would enforce the law of Texas.

“I think that the DAs office has an absolute job and duty to follow the laws as written, and that’s what I would do if and when elected for that position,” said Tetens.

While the GRACE Act was not on the agenda, the council could likely take it up in the future after council member Kelly Palmer requested it be considered during a previous meeting.

KWTX requested an interview with Palmer Tuesday but was told her schedule was full.

Tuesday night’s meeting was so heavily attended it was extended, and it ended shortly before 10:30 p.m.

Since it wasn’t on the agenda, no action was taken and the act was not publicly discussed by council members.

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