In our last blog post, we talked about the Austin community members’ recent demand to the City Council to continue the practical support program for people seeking abortions, historically implemented last year. While $150,000 was allocated to the program, reproductive rights groups and advocates called for local officials not only to continue providing that funding for another year, but to also increase the amount to $250,000 due to COVID-19 increasing the logistical barriers Austinites already experience to access abortion in Texas. Additionally, advocates requested that this increase come directly from divesting funding from the Austin Police Department, which receives nearly half of the entire city budget each year. And recently, council members unanimously voted in favor of doing just that.
What This Means for Our Community
Not only will the practical support program continue with additional funding for those who need it, but over $100 million will also be divested from the Austin Police Department to fund other community-based social services, like violence prevention, food access, and a new program called the ‘Reimagine Safety Fund’. It’s another historic win for Austin, and a reminder that advocating for change on a local level can present real, tangible results for our communities.
Barriers to Reproductive Healthcare in Texas
People seeking abortions in Texas face unique barriers. Texas has more cities where people live 100 miles or more from their nearest abortion provider than any other state. Additionally, restrictions like the 24-hour waiting period and ban on most private insurance coverage in Texas can push access even further away — especially for people of color, young people and low-income people.
Because of these barriers to care, reproductive rights, health, and justice organizations often bridge the gap between what a person has and what they need in order to make abortion access a reality.
The Groups Providing Practical Support to Austinites
Fund Texas Choice
Fund Texas Choice (FTC) was founded in response to Texas HB2, an extreme bill that forced over half the clinics in Texas to close as a result of medically unnecessary restrictions — including our sister clinic, Killeen Women’s Health Center. While HB2 was overturned in 2016, the impacts have had a ripple effect on people across the state. As a practical support organization, FTC provides logistical support, such as plane and bus tickets, rideshares, assistance with gas, and also provides lodging for people traveling long distances and are forced to spend nights away from home.
Jane’s Due Process
Jane’s Due Process provides unique support to young people across the state by ensuring they know their rights when it comes to sexual health and reproductive health decisions. In Texas, parental consent is required if you need an abortion or birth control and are under the age of 18, Jane’s Due Processensures they know their rights when it comes to sexual health and reproductive health decisions. Teens can access an abortion without parental consent in Texas through judicial bypass,a special permission from a judge for a teen to get abortion care without involving their parent or guardian. The judicial bypass process can seem daunting, but Jane’s Due Process ensures young people have legal support, one-on-one case management, transportation, and funding resources so they can get confidential abortion care.
Mama Sana Vibrant Woman
Jeanette Monsalve and Paula X. Rojas created Mama Sana Vibrant Woman (MSVW) in 2012 “as a social-justice initiative to provide low-income parents in Central Texas the resources they need for safe pregnancies and to foster a nonjudgmental community that values individuals for their cultural experiences.”
Mama Sana Vibrant Woman works to improve pregnancy and birth outcomes for communities of color by facilitating access to culturally appropriate and quality prenatal and postnatal care for women of color in Austin and Travis County. The organization also offers various programs and classes such as pregnancy and birth circles, child prep workshops, wellness clinics, and a birth companion program (doula training.) In July, MSVW also reported they were developing a COVID-19 relief fund to further assist families impacted by the pandemic, in addition to “meal services, therapy, and doula work.”
The Bridge Collective
The Bridge Collective is an all-volunteer-led practical support group providing free rideshares and lodging to people in the Austin area. Volunteers pick up and drop off people seeking abortions at Austin clinics and/or while staying at hotels in the area. Oftentimes, folks are flying or driving in from rural areas that do not have an abortion provider, and sometimes they need assistance with transportation because of lack of gas money or other financial instability. Sometimes folks also don’t have a supportive person able to accompany them as an escort following the administration of IV sedation for surgical abortions.
Practical Support Organizations Improve Abortion Access For Our Patients
As one of the last remaining clinics providing care following Texas HB2, Austin Women’s Health Center provides abortion and gynecology services to those in the Austin and surrounding areas, and even those across the state. We understand that our low-income patients, as well as people of color, continue to be disproportionately impacted by the extreme abortion restrictions enacted in our state — and these barriers have only been complicated further as a result of COVID-19. Our community is still seeing impacts from most abortion services being unavailable for an entire month following Governor Greg Abbott’s orders to deem abortion as inessential healthcare. That decision forced hundreds of appointments to be rescheduled, and forced others to travel out of state.
Practical support organizations like the ones previously listed provide a crucial, necessary service that often makes abortion access a reality, not just a right. We’re proud to partner with Fund Texas Choice, The Bridge Collective, and Jane’s Due Process to ensure our patients have the resources to make the decision they feel is necessary for their life. If you need assistance with logistical support when seeking an abortion, or want to make a donation to support other Texans, you can learn more about the organizations through the links below:
Have you visited with us before while receiving support from these organizations? We’d love to hear about it! Catch up with us on social media to share your story!