As Texas continues discouraging women from having abortions by making them jump through hoops, volunteer-led groups are springing into action to help women navigate the state’s unjust system. This summer, the Supreme Court will rule on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which is being called the most important abortion case since Roe v. Wade. The case will determine the constitutionality of the Texas Omnibus Abortion Bill known as HB 2 – which is designed to shut down 75 percent of health clinics providing abortions because they aren’t ambulatory surgical centers. If it stands, women will continue needing to travel far distances for access to one of the few remaining shelters in the state. This, coupled with a February 2012 sonogram law that makes women wait at least 24 hours after seeing a sonogram and hearing a heartbeat to have an abortion, has given rise to abortion access groups like La Frontera Fund.
“Many women and families are forced to travel away from their homes, and take off several days of work to meet the requirements of the 24- to 48-hour waiting period of HB2,” said Rockie Gonzalez, founding board member of La Frontera, to Remezcla in a message. “Some families have been forced to sleep in their cars in the parking lot of the clinic because they cannot afford hotel accommodations on top of procedure cost, travel cost, child care, food, and the loss of income from not working.” For lower-income people in Texas it’s just too many obstacles to overcome, which is why La Frontera Fund is providing “practical support” in the form of lodging.
The non-profit organization launched on May 7 to serve Rio Grande Valley residents – especially undocumented immigrants – who travel to Whole Women’s Health clinic in McAllen, according to the Texas Observer. In the last two years, clinics in Corpus Christi and Harlingen closed because they couldn’t meet the hospital-style health standards required under HB 2. Women’s Health McAllen, which can’t afford to make the changes it needs to become an ambulatory surgical center, may close. When it temporarily closed in 2014, La Frontera Fund’s Sofia Peña said that women tried to take measures into their own hands. “When the clinic was closed, we’ve heard of patients calling and asking about self-induction methods,” she told the Observer. “It’s very clear that the need here is dire.”
La Frontera Fund has a starting budget of about $20,000 and can provide as much as $175 for hotel costs, but they can only help a limited number of people. The Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) reports that about 30 percent of women who try to get an abortion, spend more than $100 of their own money on transportation, hotels, and child care. And for many Texans, an average of 85 miles stands between their home and an abortion center.
From now until May 22, you can buy a T-shirt to support La Frontera Fund’s efforts (buy here), but you can also head over to the org’s site and donate here. To learn more about La Frontera Fund, as well as other abortion access groups Lilith Fund, Texas Equal Access Fund, and West Fund, visit Texas Observer.