Note: On 6/7/2017, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB8 into law.
The National Network of Abortion Funds is outraged by another heartless and destructive legislative session in Texas. SB 8 adds to the slew of unconstitutional omnibus attempts to limit abortion access. This bill particularly targets organizations and individuals acting out of compassion, empathy, and justice with a poorly written and legally dubious bill. SB 8 will affect the people who call abortion funds most of all. It targets people getting the safest form of later abortions, D&E abortion. Abortion funds like the George Tiller Memorial Abortion fund assist with later abortion at a higher than proportional rate due to increased cost and logistics.
SB 8 also makes it a felony for anyone who assists someone in getting a D&E abortion – this could target everyone from the doctors and staff in the clinics to trusted friends, family, and volunteers who drive someone to a clinic to the people who provide financial and logistical assistance, like the critical network of abortion funds in Texas.
Based on fraudulent propaganda videos, SB 8 prevents people from voluntarily donating tissue from their abortion and forces patients and providers to pay for a burial or cremation after every abortion. This is an unnecessary and cost-prohibitive proposal meant to shame and stigmatize. During this legislative session, Texas has also looked to keep insurance from covering abortion, including the Affordable Care Act and private insurance plans, prohibiting both the patient and company from using benefits in the ways they see best.
Yamani Hernandez, Executive Director of the National Network of Abortion Funds says:
“Once again, politicians are barging into the exam room, refusing to listen to medical professionals, and attempting to ban abortion despite the Supreme Court consistently upholding our legal access to abortion without undue burden. To destroy this supportive safety net is isolating, intrusive, and careless towards people in the midst of a crucial moment where love and support is so important. We mourn with all Texans the cruelty and ineptitude of this badly written bill, which would have severe repercussions for people who are already hurting because of other damaging laws. We know all too well that it is unwise for politicians to invite the potential for extreme abuse of power against people who can least afford to be further criminalized by an already heavy-handed, bigoted set of state laws.”
On top of these cruel bills, Texas has spent the session creating a dangerous and unwelcoming world for our families by passing racist bills that harm immigrant families and target all people of color. They’ve also passed bills designed to target and harm transgender children in schools and LGBTQ families, while diverting money needed for reproductive and family health to deceptive church-run Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Texas legislators have even attached abortion restrictions to animal cruelty bills. Texas is using the power granted to it by voters to attack the people who live in Texas, to hurt them economically, to cut off their healthcare, and certainly to waste their tax dollars, as federal law has proven over and over again that Texas will lose these costly taxpayer funded court battles. All of this comes as the Texas Senate passed a bill to allow adoption agencies to discriminate against non-Christian, LGBTQ, and unmarried prospective parents.
Texans, including abortion funds, continue to fight back against these gross overreaches into their personal and private lives.
Gina Lawrence, West Fund
“SB 8 is an attack on abortion rights, which are already extremely limited in west Texas. Currently, 55% of West Fund’s patients already need to travel out of state to get their abortion, and the average trip west Texans face is a 395 mile round trip. This is impossible for most working class and low income people, especially when they have children, like 75% of our patients seeking abortion do. Outlawing the safest form of second trimester abortion, the D&E, will push more people to travel from Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico. In addition, the vague wording of SB 8 leaves the door open for completely legal nonprofits like ours to be prosecuted for helping people access abortions, which will put our patients, who already struggle to access abortions, in even more jeopardy.”
Nan Kirkpatrick, Texas Equal Access Fund
“The D&E ban that was tacked onto SB 8 as an amendment in the House is especially dangerous. We know from our own clients and from TxPEP research that more people have been seeking second trimester abortions since HB2 shut down so many of our clinics. The TEA Fund assists folks from the Panhandle and South Plains regions of Texas, an area that is still without access in the wake of clinic closures. A ban on the safest and most common form of second trimester abortion will effectively ban abortion after 13 weeks, putting abortion out of reach for even more people in such a restricted atmosphere. From the moment a person becomes pregnant, the clock starts ticking, and if they have to wrangle travel, time off, funding assistance, an appointment – they may find themselves unable to access an abortion all together if SB 8 passes. As with all abortion restrictions, this one hits low-income Texans the hardest.”
Amanda Williams, Lilith Fund
“I know firsthand the impact of having the support of family and friends when seeking an abortion. Now, the state is attempting to criminalize the generosity and compassion of loved ones of Texans having abortions. SB 8 does nothing to advance the health and safety of people seeking abortion care. This outrageous attack on Texans’ reproductive rights will push safe care completely out of reach for many Lilith Fund clients, who are primarily low-income women of color working to make ends meet and care for their families. As an organization that heard from over 6,000 people who couldn’t afford their abortion care last year, we have seen firsthand how restrictions like these hurt Texas families, stigmatize abortion, and act to punish providers offering compassionate care.”
Aimee Arrambide, JD, Fund Texas Choice
“The Texas legislature continues to place ideological anti-abortion sentiment ahead of addressing some of the most significant problems facing Texans. This reckless disregard will end end up costing Texas not only a significant amount of money, but will hurt the health care and lives of Texans, especially those most oppressed and disenfranchised, who seek assistance from Fund Texas Choice.
Additionally, the language used in this bill and the careless way in which the law was drafted could result in the criminalization of individuals and organizations like Fund Texas Choice, who help Texans access abortion care. In 2016, Fund Texas Choice helped 343 people travel long distances to abortion clinics, half of whom traveled out of state. The average trip cost was $500. SB 8 bans one of the most common abortion procedures performed in the second trimester and will result in an increase in the number of and costs associated with Texans traveling out of state for procedures.”