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Planned Parenthood lease prompts tense back-and-forth

Friday, November 2, 2018 by Jack Craver

On Thursday City Council voted to grant Planned Parenthood another 20 years on the city-owned parcel at 1823 E. Seventh St. The city will charge $1 a year in rent. The item was passed on the consent agenda, but not before Nicole Hudgens of Texas Values, a socially conservative advocacy group, voiced her objections. Hudgens said that the deal was “not fair to East Austin” due to the revenue the city was forgoing by providing the property for free. She noted that Austin LifeCare, a conservative crisis pregnancy center that seeks to discourage women from having abortions, had offered to pay the fair market value for the land. That group provides many of the same services as Planned Parenthood, she explained, “but without killing unborn children.” After she concluded her remarks Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, who had left the dais during her remarks, explained his brief absence: “I will continue to refuse to sit on this dais and hear testimony from organizations that would seek to remove my personal civil rights,” he said, referencing the organization’s opposition to LGBT rights. Afterward, Council Member Ellen Troxclair, the lone conservative left on the dais, thanked Hudgens for speaking to a crowd that she knew would not be receptive. “It’s brave and it’s hard,” said Troxclair. Flannigan responded: “There is a difference between disagreeing with the Council and seeking to eliminate people’s civil rights. We should not and cannot in this moment in this nation equivocate those two things,” he said. This was not about somebody who disagreed with him about land use or taxation, but a group that “sees some of us on this dais as less than human.” Troxclair issued one final defense, saying that she didn’t hear Hudgens say anything about “those things” that Flannigan was referencing. “She was talking about abortion, about the killing of unborn children. I think that’s a very legitimate debate that we have in this city, in this state, in this country.” The item passed 10-1, with only Troxclair in dissent.

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