One year ago today, a decision critical to securing abortion care in Texas was handed down by the Supreme Court. Ruling in favor of more secure abortion access for millions of Texans, the court blocked the continued shuttering of clinics across the massive state.
As abortion funds, we are celebrating the anniversary of this hard-won victory (see Amicus Brief), but we would be remiss if we did not also use this moment as a call to action. No ruling in favor of abortion access is a cure-all for the strained and broken state of reproductive health care, a harsh reality made apparent daily in Texas, where millions of us still do not have access to the abortions and reproductive health care they seek.
And despite the reprieve the Supreme Court’s decision offered, confusion over the legality of abortion and the closure of clinics has left Texas without full access to abortion care. Texans were already suffering before the extreme laws of 2013 passed, and though they were eventually rebuffed, many people faced unending barriers to care. These barriers continue today as anti-abortion legislators continue to throw every piece of cruel legislation at the wall, knowing some will stick even as others are struck down. Each restriction means someone who was struggling to get by will now not be able to get the abortion they need. The confusion sown is a public health disaster, designed to baffle and befuddle people struggling to access their right to an abortion.
Making matters worse, the state’s upcoming special summer session promises a continued assault on abortion access, inviting extreme abuse of power against people who can least afford to be further criminalized by an already heavy-handed and bigoted set of laws. Laws which have left those living in rural communities in Texas with no access to abortion providers.
On today’s one year anniversary, abortion funds speak out about the continued need for action.
Yamani Hernandez, Executive Director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, says:
“I am grateful the Supreme Court overturned these catastrophic laws. But abortion funds are not resting. Abortion restrictions in Texas are discriminatory, and disproportionately impact people of color, immigrants, rural people, and young people. We can’t afford to have even one more piece of harmful legislation pass, and instead need to see a broad expansion of abortion access across the state.”
Texans, including abortion funds, have spent this past year doubling down on their commitment to abortion access.
Sofia Peña, La Frontera Fund:
“The clinic closures during the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt proceedings affected us in the Rio Grande Valley in a really dire way — one of our two clinics never reopened because of the financial blow it took to close. Our local Whole Woman’s Health was able to reopen, but during its closure, it has been reported that many people self-induced miscarriage, had unsafe abortions or carried unwanted pregnancies to term. Further, undocumented people were unable to travel out of the five-county region to get abortion care even if they could afford to; unfortunately, however, many people here in our impoverished area can’t afford abortion care costs even when the clinics are open.”
“HB2 was the exact bill Wendy Davis filibustered for thirteen hours the same year I had my abortion, and it’s the same bill that launched her bid for Governor in the 2015 mid-term elections, a campaign I had the opportunity to work on. Coincidentally, today marks my one year anniversary of joining the board of my local abortion fund, the West Fund. I’ve been able to share my abortion story to help reduce the shame and stigma around the common medical procedure, while making abortion access a reality for those burdened by legislation and financial barriers. Though I’ve been quick to learn a Supreme Court ruling is hardly a win in Texas, I feel proud of the West Fund and all we’re accomplishing in my community and home on the border.”
Lindsay Rodriguez, National Network of Abortion Funds and formerly Lilith Fund:
“Those of us in Texas celebrate a hard-fought Supreme Court victory today, while knowing every day we must continue to organize and build power. The Texas legislature would rather play politics with our lives than pass laws that ensure we can raise healthy and safe families on our own terms. Not only is Texas withholding rights and resources from people needing abortions, it’s diverting money away from communities in dire need, who deserve to have a safe and peaceful existence, robust health care, and the ability to raise children without state violence and without hunger. We will continue to fight for our lives and communities every day because people in Texas deserve better than the racist, misogynist, unjust system we currently have.”
Gina Lawrence, West Fund:
“The West Fund was founded because of the restrictions that HB2 brought. The SCOTUS ruling felt like an affirmation of the work we are doing in west Texas and we are proud of the work we have done in our community. However, the ruling did not change things overnight. We have seen our patients have to travel an average of 400 miles round trip to access their abortions. We have also seen the average weeks along go from 10 weeks to 13 weeks; our patients cite cost and inability to locate a local clinic as their reasons why they were unable to contact us sooner. We know that this ruling was important, but we also know that there are many other reasons why abortion continues to be inaccessible in Texas for many.”
Aimee Arrambide, JD, Fund Texas Choice:
“The morning of the decision I cried tears of joy because the Supreme Court upheld an obvious constitutional right. I am surprised that in light of the (WWH v. Hellerstedt) decision and the millions of wasted dollars introducing, enforcing, and defending abortion restrictions, states, especially Texas, continue to pass unconstitutional abortion laws like SB8. The decision was one step forward, however in reality because over half the abortion clinics had already closed, abortion care in Texas is still not accessible. The number of Fund Texas Choice clients has exponentially increased and our clients are having to wait longer and travel farther to access care. However, Texans are undeterred. Clinics have opened and reopened and we continue to fight every day to combat the injustice facing our state and Texans.”
Nan Little Kirkpatrick, Texas Equal Fund:
“I will never forget the moment I saw the decision scroll onto the screen on SCOTUSblog. I cheered and cried and shook with relief and joy. But I think it’s extremely important for people to know that since that decision we haven’t gotten anywhere close to the level of abortion access we had prior to the law closing so many clinics. For instance, we still have no abortion providers in the Panhandle region of Texas, and we hear from lots of people in those communities who are hundreds of miles from abortion care. The decision was right and just, but it did not flip a switch to reopen the clinics we lost in 2013 and 2014.”
Amanda Williams, Lilith Fund:
“The SCOTUS ruling was an important validation for abortion funds like the Lilith Fund, who work every day with clients who struggle to navigate the complex system of accessing abortion under oppressive governments who impose laws that primarily hurt working class people of color in Texas. Because HB 2 was not fully implemented, we’re glad to see it prevented additional clinics in our state from closing. However, in our service area, only two clinics have reopened– showing how difficult the Texas government has made it for abortion providers to operate. In 2016 we were proud to serve 1,341 clients, but we know there are thousands more Texans who are in need of abortion who can’t access it. Regardless of continued legislative attacks, abortion funds will continue to exist– we will not stop supporting and loving our communities who deserve more than being used as political pawns in an unjust system.”
Fund leaders are available for interviews. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.