Say yay to Prop A

Lauren Hernandez, Assistant Arts & Life Editor

Stop whatever you are doing and go vote. Local elections are coming up on May 6, with early voting starting April 24, and if you are a San Antonio resident, this election is especially critical. The ballot not only includes candidates for the City Council and the mayor’s seat, but it also includes Proposition A, which, if passed, would drastically amend the city charter. 

Prop A, also called the San Antonio Justice Charter, was organized by Act 4 SA and a coalition of groups who gathered over 35,000 signatures to get it on the ballot. The charter is proposing legalizing marijuana possession, legalizing abortion, expanding the list of crimes that fall under cite-and-release as well as banning police enforcement of abortion-related crimes, chokeholds and no-knock warrants. So, I suggest we take this step by step.

If Prop A is passed, it would legalize misdemeanor marijuana possession of up to four ounces. It would also prohibit SAPD officers from using the smell of marijuana as probable cause for a search. According to the proposition, legalizing marijuana would reduce the City’s contribution to mass incarceration, mitigate racially discriminatory law enforcement practices and save scarce public resources for greater public needs. Legalizing marijuana would also enable it to be better regulated and taxed, meaning the sale of marijuana would benefit our economy. 

Through Prop A, San Antonio is the first Texas city to attempt to decriminalize abortion through a ballot initiative. If passed, Prop A will prohibit SAPD officers from investigating and enforcing “any alleged criminal abortion.” The only exceptions would be instances where coercion or force is used against a pregnant person or in cases involving conduct that is criminally negligent to the health of the pregnant person. Additionally, no city staff, funds or resources will be used to report these procedures to governmental agencies unless it is required by state or federal law. 

Currently, abortions have been banned in Texas due to the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022. According to the National Library of Medicine in an abstract published before the abortion ban, “The abolition of legal abortion in the U.S. would seriously threaten the health, and even the lives, of women and children.” 

By comparing data from before and after the Roe v. Wade precedent set in 1973, it is evident that abortions have always occurred. Even in 1955, experts estimated that there were approximately one million illegally induced abortions in the U.S. annually. When abortion was legalized, the number of abortion-related deaths in the U.S. decreased. The comparison of mortality rates shows that legally induced abortion is seven times safer than carrying the pregnancy to term, and illegal abortion may carry a risk of death as much as 30 times that of legal abortion. 

The next big thing that Prop A addresses is cite-and-release. Cite-and-release allows police to issue a ticket instead of arresting an individual. This citation is still a directive that a person appear in court to answer a charge. 

Prop A proposes that SAPD’s cite-and-release program, which is already in place, will include graffiti cases. This citation mandate applies to all Class C misdemeanors except public intoxication. Class C misdemeanors are the lowest level crimes in state law and are typically handled through citations anyway. This citation mandate is not legalizing crime and suspects will still face up to a year in jail and potential fines. They will just be able to avoid the initial arrest and bail until they are seen in court

Lastly, Prop A will simply add the already existing bans on the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants by police to the city charter. The proposition will add additional restrictions to police’s use of force, such as having to wait at least 30 seconds for someone to respond before trying to enter on a search warrant and enforcing that police officers have their body cameras turned on before entering a property with a warrant. This section of Prop A does not necessarily restrict the police’s powers as much as redefines them. It should provide a sense of security to us all to know that police powers will not go unchecked if this proposition is passed. 

Many people argue that Prop A includes everything but the kitchen sink into one petition, but this just means that voting will be easier for you. All of the issues being addressed in this proposition are reasonable, and there should be no doubt in your mind that voting yes to Prop A is the way to go for San Antonio.