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Texas nonprofits face further barriers, legal questions as trigger law banning abortions is set to take effect

Fund Texas Choice and the Lilith Fund are among the state's network of organizations that've halted direct financial assistance to people seeking abortions.

SAN ANTONIO — As Texas’s trigger law banning virtually all abortions prepares to go into effect August 25, there remains ongoing challenges for various nonprofit organizations tasked with helping women seek abortion care.

“We typically are a practical support abortion fund, meaning we help people to travel by paying for flights, hotels, gas, childcare, reimbursement and those types of cost. Unfortunately, that has been paused,” said Jaylynn Farr Munson, manager of development and communications with Fund Texas Choice.

Fund Texas Choice (FTC) formed followed the passage of Texas House Bill 2, which closed almost 75% of over 40 Texan clinics in 2013 and 2014. But the Supreme Court struck down provisions of the law in 2016.

FTC’s mission has been hampered by Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and carries the risk of civil suits filed against someone who assists with providing an abortion.

Farr Munson said the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June, along with Texas’s trigger law, creates barriers and hinders FTC's ability to fully aid women looking for abortion care.

“We know that trigger ban is going to compound the consequences of the pre-Roe laws that ban abortions, and threaten criminal and civil penalties for anyone who furnishes the means for an abortion,” Farr Munson said. “We simply don’t know what furnishing the means of an abortion will look like for the anti-abortion legislators that are threatening us with the criminal and civil penalties, but we are not going anywhere.”

Fear of legal consequences hasn’t stopped all activity at these organizations. The Lilith Fund’s Erika Galindo noted abortion fund organizations in Texas are keeping their phone lines open, providing guidance on resources for finding clinics statewide and across the country.

“All of Texas’s local abortion funds are working really hard right not to pivot and figure out ways we can still show up for Texans,” Galindo said.

Abortions sought outside the Lone Star State, meanwhile, surged in the months following the passage of SB 8. Nearly 1,400 Texans each month secured abortions in other states between August and Dec. 31 last year, according to UT Austin’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project.

Almost three out of four Texans who received an abortion during that time frame traveled to Oklahoma and New Mexico.

“Folks are having to leave the state, take time off work, take time away from their kids, travelling still in a pandemic to get basic health care—and that’s atrocious and a tragedy,” Galindo said.

The trigger law, SB 8 and pre-Roe statutes dating back to the 1920s provide no exceptions to rape or incest. The only exception to perform an abortion is to save the life of the pregnant patient.

Doctors who provide abortions face life in prison and fines of at least $100,000 for each offense, once the law goes into effect in a week's time. 

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