The G.R.A.C.E Act — a resolution cities can pass to declare that they will be de-prioritizing enforcement of criminal laws related to abortion — has been passed in Austin, Denton, Dallas, El Paso, and San Antonio, and it’s being considered in Houston. But it’s not just big cities seeking to fight back against hostile state abortion bans. Activists in San Marcos have been pushing for their city to pass the G.R.A.C.E Act, too. The San Marcos Abortion Activists are a group of young people who came together in the wake of the Supreme Court decision to organize around abortion rights, and we reached out to them to learn more.

Q1. How did y’all meet? And, what inspired y’all to decide to organize to pass the G.R.A.C.E. Act in San Marcos? 

We actually grew out of a small collective of friends who were already organizing around broader social justice issues. Once the leak of Roe v. Wade broke, one of our members proposed that instead of traveling to protests in Austin that we host a rally in San Marcos. Afterwards, we discussed ways to build a sustainable movement here. Once Austin and San Antonio introduced the GRACE Act, we thought this would be a great way to start mobilizing San Marcos residents.

Q2. Introducing city council policy that supports abortion in a smaller TX city can be intimidating. What advice do you have for people who want to pass the G.R.A.C.E. Act in cities that are more conservative and where there is less support or presence from statewide advocacy groups in Texas?

In terms of mobilizing people in more conservative areas, it can be helpful to start coalition building. It can be helpful to reach out to groups already doing the work and seek advice–what have they done that has been successful? What lessons can you learn from them? Many activists are excited to help new organizers learn and grow, and are happy to help people organize.

It is also important to build community, no matter how small it may be. A small group can make a huge change. Social media is also a fantastic way to spread the word and build a base. There very well could be a large number of people in conservative areas looking to organize around abortion rights but don’t know where to start. It can be extremely helpful to provide a place where people can easily find what movements are happening and find out how to get involved.

Q3. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in introducing an agenda item in your city council? 

It doesn’t feel entirely honest to say that we introduced the agenda item–there were many people emailing San Marcos City Council as soon as Austin introduced the G.R.A.C.E. Act–we just provided a space for mass mobilization. But, the biggest lesson we learned is how necessary it is to have community support to facilitate social change.

Q4. What would y’all like to do next as you continue your organizing around abortion rights, health, and justice in San Marcos? 

We’d really like to organize around policy initiatives beyond the GRACE Act. As a policy recommendation, the GRACE Act is a great start to fighting for reproductive justice. But as other abortion activists have discussed recently, Texas communities need to pass stronger policies with more inclusive language. Our goal is to build a local movement that will accomplish just that.

Q5. How can people get involved with the work you’re doing in San Marcos? And, support future projects y’all are working on

Anyone who would like to get involved can follow us on Instagram @smabortionactivists, Twitter @smabortionact, or email us at smabortionactivists@gmail.com. We’d gladly welcome any and all volunteers who want to get involved in this fight!