Even before the legislature convened, Texas Republicans were hyping legislation that would severely restrict abortion access in Texas. Last week, Gov. Abbott made it official by signing one of the most extreme anti-abortion bills in the country.
Senate Bill 8 would ban abortion essentially before many women even know they are pregnant. SB 8 would also allow virtually anyone to file a lawsuit against an abortion provider or any person they believe aided or abetted an abortion.
Barring a court intervention, SB 8 will go into effect on September 1. Texas Signal spoke with Cristina Parker, the Communications Director for Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity about what Texans should know regarding abortion access.
Lilith Fund is the oldest abortion fund in Texas. It serves central and southern Texas through direct financial assistance for abortions. Lilith Fund was one of several organizations that denounced SB 8 after the signing ceremony held by Abbott.
One of the most important things Parker wanted to emphasize is that SB 8 has not taken effect yet. “Abortion is legal. You can still get an abortion, please reach out to us if you need help,” said Parker. She also highlighted the work of other abortion fund groups throughout the state.
For many Texans who do not follow the news closely, it’s important for organizations like Lilith Fund to avoid confusion about abortion access. “We’re trying to avoid people feeling stressed or stretched in that way, or to travel out of state when it’s not necessary now,” said Parker. Lilith Fund has a hotline for callers to use as well as links for clinics in Texas.
There is also the strong possibility that SB 8 is overturned even before September 1. “No six week ban has ever survived a court challenge,” said Parker. It’s very likely that a lawsuit will challenge SB 8 for being unconstitutional. However, Parker acknowledges that the damage will already be done in terms of confusing Texans about abortion care in the state.
Last year Texas had a preview of what restricted abortion access would look after Abbott signed an executive order that halted abortions in the state.
“We know exactly what it will be like to live in Texas where abortion access is decimated because that happened,” said Parker. According to Parker, Lilith Fund was able to increase their individual support to clients because there were fewer callers during that time. They also worked with clinics in other states like Colorado and New Mexico.
For now, Lilith Fund is adamant that they will continue their work of funding abortion and accessing care. Their website lists a helpful guide about abortion access.
The priorities for Texas Republicans have always been warped. And it’s not lost on Parker that the legislature, which could have been using the session to ensure the state’s power grid could withstand extreme weather, instead chose to pass anti-abortion legislation.
Parker also hopes that Texans who want to affirm their support for reproductive rights look to abortion fund groups, but also to think about the statewide elections coming up in 2022. “Seek out your local abortion fund, and hold this governor accountable for this single-minded agenda that completely ignores that Texans really need and want to survive and thrive for this political theater that they love to do,” said Parker.
If you are in need of an abortion, you can also go to the website NeedAbortion.org.
Photo: AFP / MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images