After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last week—allowing states to outlaw the practice of dismembering, poisoning, or using any other means to kill a baby in the womb—a North Texas local government is one of the first to officially “retaliate.”

On Tuesday, after protests and a heated hours-long public meeting, the Denton City Council voted 4-3 to approve a resolution advising the local police department to “deprioritize” enforcing Texas laws that stop abortions.

The resolution recommends the department does not store reports of soon-to-be-illegal abortions, give related information to other government agencies, nor investigate businesses that are exterminating preborn children.

Ironically, the resolution also refuses to recognize women, instead labeling them as “pregnant people.”

Throughout the contentious evening, hundreds of abortion activists showed up at Denton City Hall to protest in support of the resolution, including reported “black-clad people in ninja masks carrying military-style rifles.” Some of the council members expressed distress over threats and concern for their families’ safety because, as Mayor Gerard Hudspeth said, “People are upset about [the overturn of Roe v. Wade], and they’re going to Supreme Court justices’ houses, and they have federal agents there. We don’t have that.”

“All our families, the home addresses are known. That’s a concern for me,” he added. Dozens of police officers were on the city hall premises for the meeting.

“Imagine a world where people are mad about saving babies,” one citizen commented.

Texas has a coming state law (to be activated in as soon as 30 days) to ban the abortion practice statewide, and similar existing laws were already on the books before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

However, local government officials across Texas are currently trying to find ways to avoid enforcing the upcoming law. Denton is the first local government body in the state to approve such a “deprioritization” resolution, though they copied the draft language from the Austin City Council, which is expected to approve their version in late July.

Additionally, district attorneys in some of the state’s largest metropolitan areas are saying they’ll refuse to prosecute businesses that commit abortions.

“As passionate as everyone has been on this issue, it doesn’t matter if this resolution passes or not,” said Councilmember Jesse Davis, one of the council members who voted against the resolution. “It just doesn’t make a difference. That passion should be directed other places. Austin doesn’t really care what the City of Denton government has to say.”

“It’s a dead letter,” he added. “It does nothing. It affects nothing.”

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.