Written by Austin Women’s Health Center Abortion Counselor – Paige Alexandria
Editorial Assistance – Cherise Pascual
Some Background on Texas HB2
Texas has lost more than half of its abortion providers since the bill Texas HB2 passed in 2013. Texas HB2 was designed to shut down clinics by virtue of TRAP laws (targeted regulation of abortion providers) which put medically unnecessary restrictions on these practitioners.
Texas Republican lawmakers claimed these new restrictions were put in place to protect the health of those seeking abortion care; however, these restrictions put an undue burden on those seeking care. For instance, with only half the amount of abortion providers available, more people would have to travel greater distances to access an abortion.
Luckily for pro-choice advocates and Texans needing abortion, the Supreme Court overturned these restrictions in 2016 – however, traveling long distances to access proper reproductive healthcare is, unfortunately, a reality many Texans still face when seeking an abortion.
Our Funding Partners Working To Increase Access To Care
Fund Texas Choice (FTC) is a practical support organization and one of our funding partners who recently worked together with The Lilith Fund, Jane’s Due Process, and NARAL Pro-Choice Texas to host an abortion care kit event!
The abortion care kits were carefully assembled by members of our community for Austin Women’s Health patients who travel long distances to our clinic. The kits include toiletries and empowering notes.
Sarah Lopez, the Program Coordinator at Fund Texas Choice (FTC), explains,
“at FTC, we understand that abortion is largely inaccessible for Texans. We help with travel and lodging so that people are able to make it to their abortion appointments.”She continues, “people are so focused on requesting time off work or finding last-minute childcare that the necessities tend to be forgotten. By coming together as a community and making overnight kits and adding loving messages for abortion clinic patients, we hope that people know that they are not alone and their experience is valid.”
“I had my abortion at Austin Women’s Health Center in 2017, so being able to be a part of something that gives back to this clinic’s patients is very meaningful to me,” says Sarah.
The Consequences of Texas HB2 Continue to Place Undue Burden on Care
After Texas HB2 passed in 2014, our sister clinic Killeen Women’s Health Center was forced to close. This was Killeen‘s only abortion provider, which means that people now travel from Killeen to Austin to receive services. It takes a minimum of two hours to make the round trip to Austin Women’s Health Center from Killeen and the surrounding areas.
Some people in Waco are even farther away from care options. People who are 16 weeks or more in their pregnancy have no choice but to make the four-hour drive to and from Austin or Dallas. Patients who visit Austin Women’s Health Center often drive from areas such as Copperas Cove, Kyle, Manor, Marble Falls, and San Marcos, as there are no abortion clinics available in those cities at all.
Although Texas HB2 was overturned in 2016, Texas is still experiencing the ripple effect from its passage, and not all clinics have the ability to reopen. Here is a current list of all abortion providers in Texas. The availability of clinics in our huge state is sparse.
The closest clinic to Amarillo is in Dallas — nearly 6 hours away! El Paso has two abortion clinics, but neither provide services further than 16 weeks into a pregnancy, leaving many residents in the west and north Texas areas no choice but to travel — usually to New Mexico or other nearby states — and these folks are often supported by Fund Texas Choice.
Austin City Council Shows Up To Support Abortion Access
This year, Austin City Council members worked with The Lilith Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice Texas to propose a budget amendment that would allocate up to $150,000 for logistical support surrounding abortion. It was supported by other progressive organizations such as Fund Texas Choice, The Bridge Collective, Jane’s Due Process, The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and more. The proposal includes assistance for transportation, lodging, childcare and emotional support for Austin residents who need an abortion.
On September 10, 2019, Council Members voted in favor of this proposal, making Austin the first city in the nation to fund practical support for abortion!
The benefits of this budget also reach beyond the local community, as Austin residents may need to travel out of state due to the 20-week abortion ban in Texas. Thanks to the new budget amendment, they will be greatly supported.
Read more about the budget proposal here.
Austin Women’s Health Center wants to support people across our state who have to travel to us for abortion care. We know abortion care kits aren’t the solution to problems you may face when traveling long distances to receive services, but we hope they can provide you with some comfort. We support you, and Austin City Council proved they support you, too!