Earlier this year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion bills into law, one which bans abortion after fetal cardiac activity can be detected — only six weeks into pregnancy. It was a devastating blow to Texans, abortion providers, and advocates everywhere, and a frivolous attempt on behalf of anti-abortion conservatives to ban abortion by all means necessary.
Senate Bill 8, which is set to go into effect September 1, won’t be enforced by the state. Instead, the recently enacted legislation will allow private citizens to bring forth civil suits against anyone who performs an abortion or anyone who helps someone access one, and rewards them $10,000 for doing so. That means the people in our lives who help us access abortion — from family and friends who lend us money to the Uber or Lyft driver who drives us to the clinic — can all be found liable under the new bill. Texas Right to Life has already launched a “whistleblower” website where citizens can make anonymous tips or claims if they’ve suspected someone has violated SB8.
For patients, the confusion and chaos surrounding a fragile abortion access landscape in Texas has been happening long before now; Texans are not strangers to the repeated attempts to remove our right to bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom, leading some to fear criminal charges. Our patients especially have experienced first-hand the harm these dangerous anti-choice bills inflict upon people seeking abortions, as our doors stayed open even during Texas HB2 and the COVID-19 abortion bans last year. We do not know what the future holds, and we may not have all of the answers you need right now. But we want you to feel prepared as we and other abortion providers prepare for what’s to come in our state. Our top priority has, and always will be, your health and safety — whether that’s under the care of us here at Austin Women’s Health Center, or with a provider in a place where your right to safe and legal abortion remains protected.
Here is a list of abortion funds and practical support organizations that may be able to assist you in accessing safe and quality abortion care should SB8 go into effect on September 1.
Fund Texas Choice (FTC) was founded in response to Texas HB2, which shuttered the doors of over half of Texas’s abortion providers. FTC has been providing practical support to Texans since 2013, including home stays, transportation, and other logistical needs.
Clinic Access Support Network (CASN) serves Houstonians who need practical support for their abortion care, such as rideshares, homestays, and other logistical needs.
Like CASN, The Bridge Collective is based in Austin and San Antonio and exists to provide abortion care patients with rideshares, homestays, and other logistical-related needs.
The Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity
The Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity provides financial assistance to patients in Central and Southern Texas, and may work with clinics outside of Texas for those needing to travel.
Texas Equal Access Fund (TEA Fund) provides financial assistance to patients in North Texas and may work with clinics outside of Texas for folks needing to travel.
Buckle Bunnies provides financial assistance to patients in San Antonio and may be able to support Texans who must travel out of state.
West Fund provides financial assistance to people in West Texas, and like the other funds mentioned above, may also work with clinics outside of the state for those needing to travel.
Frontera Fund may be able to provide financial and practical assistance to Texans, including those who must travel outside of the state to access the care they need.
The National Abortion Federation provides referrals, information, and financial assistance to people seeking abortions nationwide.
National Network of Abortion Funds
The National Network of Abortion Funds is a collective of abortion funds nationwide that may be able to assist Texans who are traveling out of state. Simply visit the website, navigate the funds through their integrated map, and contact groups in your area and the area you’re traveling to.
For Texans traveling out of state to a Planned Parenthood, ask to be screened for the “Justice” funding when calling to schedule an appointment.
Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project
WRRAP is a non-partisan, non-profit organization helping women gain access to safe, legal abortion services and emergency contraceptives. We work with pre-qualified, reputable reproductive health clinics across the U.S. on behalf of disadvantaged women in need.
Follow these groups on social media to stay updated
As we talked about in our previous blog overviewing SB8, it’s so important to follow these groups on social media to stay up to date. Local organizations especially are experts in Texas abortion law, and you can count on them to update the public with new information as it comes. Additionally, local groups are preparing for a legal battle as they are committed to doing whatever they can to ensure abortion remains legal — and not just before six weeks. Should the legality of abortion change in Texas, it may be last minute — as we experienced with the COVID abortion bans last year. Consider following their social media accounts and subscribing to mailing lists, and feel free to call our clinic directly for updates, too.
Traveling? Here Are Some Tips
If you need to travel outside of Texas for an abortion, it can be helpful to remember each state has its own set of abortion restrictions and laws. For example, in Texas, you must have an ultrasound, receive state-mandated counseling, and then wait 24 hours before having your abortion. However, nearby states like Oklahoma and Arkansas have a 72 hour period (Louisiana is 24 hours). This can sometimes require more than one visit to an abortion clinic. On the other hand, New Mexico and Colorado don’t have a waiting period at all, meaning you can get everything done the same day. This is important to keep in mind because depending on where you go, you may need to secure additional accommodations, like a hotel or extra gas money for multiple long drives. It can also be helpful to keep in mind if you’re under 18 because some states don’t have parental involvement laws, like New Mexico, California.
You can also ask the clinic you’re traveling to about financial assistance or other support available. Sometimes clinics work internally with other support systems that may be an option for your specific situation. It can’t hurt to ask, and you aren’t limited to receiving assistance from one group, so utilize all the support you can get! And as always, reach out to our staff at Austin Women’s Health Center for help coming up with a plan for your specific needs. We are happy to talk with you about your options and what resources may be available for you.