Texas Group Resumes Funding Out-of-State Abortions | Dallas Observer


Why North Texas Abortion Rights Advocates Are 'Very Happy' This Week

Texans can no longer seek legal abortions within state lines. But what about out of state?
Texans can no longer seek legal abortions within state lines. But what about out of state? Illustration by Pablo Iglesias
In 2021, the conservative-controlled Texas Legislature imposed a sweeping abortion ban. The following summer, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a decades-old precedent laid out by Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that established abortion as a constitutional right.

But reproductive rights advocates haven’t stopped fighting, and on Monday, the Texas Equal Access Fund reopened its abortion funding program for residents seeking the procedure outside of the Lone Star State.

The news comes after abortion rights activists celebrated a major win last month: A federal judge had ruled that prosecutors can’t target such funds for bankrolling the procedure beyond Texas’ borders. This allowed the TEA Fund, a North Texas nonprofit, to start helping Texans in need once more.

TEA Fund’s intake director Charlie Hughes told the Observer that Monday was a big day for her group. “We’re excited to get to help people again,” Hughes said.

Hughes noted that clinics in neighboring states have seen a significant spike in the number of Texans appearing at their doors. Months after the state’s six-week ban on abortions went into effect in September 2021, Planned Parenthood clinics in five surrounding states witnessed a nearly 800% increase in Texas abortion patients.

It’s difficult for abortion-seeking Texans to travel hundreds of miles away from home when they’re already feeling emotional, Hughes said. Plus, costs associated with travel can add up.

Although she anticipates that anti-abortion proponents won’t be pleased to learn that TEA Fund’s program is operating again, Hughes’ group and other abortion funds are ready for whatever hurdles they encounter next.

“We've always had this relationship where we’re getting pushback for just helping people obtain their right,” Hughes said. “So, I think it’s not a new space for us, but it's just kind of something that we always have to unfortunately be prepared for.”

The push to ban abortion in Texas largely emanated from the right-wing of the Texas Legislature, and from officials like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. In a press release earlier this week, Patrick said that as a conservative Christian, he has “always been committed to helping as many women choose life as possible.

"We're happy to help people, but I just want people to be more motivated than ever to try to fight for people's right to get an abortion where they live." – Charlie Hughes, TEA Fund

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“When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, I said this was an acknowledgement of the truth: [W]hen an abortion is performed, a human life is ended,” Patrick continued in the release. “That victory was not just a victory for innocent life, but a victory for all of humanity.”

The lieutenant governor previously named “expanding alternatives to abortion” among his top 30 legislative priorities this session. And his Tuesday press release praised the state Senate’s passage of a bill by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, a Brenham Republican. Kolkhorst had previously stated on social media that her proposal, Senate Bill 24, would promote “a culture of life for families and mothers.”

These days, there aren’t any clinics that perform abortion in Texas, Hughes said. Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center in Dallas closed earlier this month, leaving many people without access to non-abortion services including birth control and ultrasounds.

There are organizations similar to TEA Fund elsewhere in the state, including the Frontera and West funds. Hughes said another group, the Lilith Fund, has also rebooted its hotline operations and is supporting out-of-state abortion care once more.

Kamyon Conner, TEA Fund’s executive director, emphasized in a press release that such groups are the “network of support” and a “critical resource” for pregnant Texans who need abortions.

And even though TEA Fund is glad to see its program revived, Hughes knows that there’s more work to be done for her group.

“We are very happy to be able to do funding again, but we're also sad that our state is in the state that it is with abortion funding,” she said. “We're happy to help people, but I just want people to be more motivated than ever to try to fight for people's right to get an abortion where they live.”

TEA Fund encourages pregnant Texans who require assistance in covering abortion-related costs to message their confidential text line, 1-844-TEA-FUND (1-844-832-3863), for help.
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Simone Carter is a staff news reporter at the Dallas Observer who graduated from the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism. Her favorite color is red, but she digs Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
Contact: Simone Carter

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