by Amelia Long
Long is the president of the Lilith Fund, an abortion fund that provides financial support to low-income and poor people in south and central Texas who cannot pay for the abortions they want and need.
For more on what you can do to help fight this bill, see this post by NARAL Texas at the Burnt Orange Report. If you live in Texas and plan on calling your state legislator and would like a script to use when you call, there is one towards the end of this post at Jessica Luther’s site. Also, Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check has more on this bill.
The Texas 20-week abortion ban is back. The bill didn’t even make it to a House vote during the regular session, but now Rick Perry has added abortion to the agenda during the Legislature’s special overtime session. The bill, a proposed ban on abortions after 20 weeks, is a pet project of Perry’s – it’s yet another step toward his ultimate goal of banning abortion completely in the state.
We have only days to mobilize against this bill. Due to the special session, abortion restrictions may be wrapped up into an omnibus bill, making them even harder to fight. We have to speak out while we still have time.
I care about this issue because I work with the Lilith Fund, a nonprofit assisting low-income Texans who seek an abortion and cannot afford it. When I bring up late-term abortion, people are often confused as to why I care. After all, nationwide, just 1.5 percent of abortions occur after 20 weeks of gestation.
But among the low-income and marginalized women the Lilith Fund works with, the rate of later abortions is much higher. During the first quarter of 2013, one in five women we funded was seeking an abortion after 20 weeks. That was nearly 50 women.
Why is there such a connection between low income and later abortion? In 2011, the Guttmacher Institute found that second-trimester abortion seekers tended to fall into one of two groups. The first group was higher-income and paying for their abortion with insurance; often, these are women devastated to discover at their 20-week ultrasound that a much-wanted fetus is incompatible with life.
The second group seeking later abortions tended to be women of color, women with less education and women who had experienced three or more disruptive events during the past year. These are the women the Lilith Fund works with.
These are women like Tasha – 21 years old and 21 weeks pregnant when she contacted the Lilith Fund. When her parents found out she was pregnant, they kicked her out of their home. Scrambling to find a place to stay and short on funds, she was forced to leave school and live house to house with people who would help her. With no job and an unsupportive partner, she told us she felt like she had “nowhere left to turn.” She was ultimately unable to pull together enough money for an abortion and we lost contact with her.
Our clients are struggling with poverty, losing a job, an illness in the family, being displaced from a home, abuse from a partner or spouse, sexual assault. Often times they are chasing the money to pay for the abortion they want and need. Every week that they are just $50 or $100 short, the cost of the abortion goes up. In seeking an abortion after 20 weeks, they are not lazy, capricious, callous or stupid. They are working hard to manage difficult and stressful lives and make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
A ban on late-term abortion hurts women, especially the low-income, marginalized women in Texas who are most vulnerable to merciless anti-abortion policies. We don’t have much time to speak out, so please do what you can. For more information on advocating in Texas, check NARAL Pro-Choice Texas’s website or contact the Lilith Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Editor’s note: more people than just cis women need and want access to abortion care.]
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