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(Photo: Debra Sweet/flickr/cc)

(Photo: Debra Sweet/flickr/cc)

Amid Shrinking Abortion Rights Nationwide, an Effort to Fund Access from the Grassroots

New York Times spotlights campaign to "fund abortion travel for low-income people in Texas"

Sarah Lazare

Despite strong U.S. support for the right to choose, the past three years have seen dramatic cuts to reproductive health care access, with states passing over 231 laws restricting abortion, according to the Guttmacher institute.

In the face of these cuts, impacted communities have found creative ways to help each other get needed reproductive health care, while at the same time organizing to defend abortion rights on a broad scale.

An article published Thursday in the New York Times describes one such creative grassroots action. Journalist Jackie Calmes tells the story of Lenzi Sheible, who at the age of 20 is the co-founder of Fund Texas Choice, which describes itself as a "non-profit organization funding abortion travel for low-income people in Texas."

The article explains:

Although longtime groups like Planned Parenthood remain active, and other organizations subsidize poor women’s costs for abortion procedures, Ms. Sheible is filling what she calls a new need in Texas for help with lodging and transportation — bus or plane tickets, gas money, taxi fare.

...In summer 2013, Ms. Sheible, then pregnant with her first child, Cora, started her fund immediately after Texas enacted some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the nation. The laws, both in Texas and in other Republican-dominated states, commonly impose at least a 24-hour wait between a woman’s first clinic visit and an abortion, forcing many out-of-towners to book hotels. They require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and mandate that clinics meet the same costly equipment, building and staffing standards as an ambulatory surgical center. Clinics that cannot comply must close.

Fund Texas Choice helps people who want them to obtain abortions by assisting their travel within Texas or to nearby states.

"As directors of Fund Texas Choice, we are passionate about reproductive justice,"  reads the organization's website. "And although we recognize that abortion is not the only issue that falls within the spectrum of reproductive justice, we believe that easy access to abortion is a vital component of any fight for equality."

"We also acknowledge that legislation like HB2 affects individuals differently, depending on many factors like race, age, income, disability status, gender identity, sexual orientation, and others," the statement continues. "Fund Texas Choice works to mitigate these disparities by implementing programs that help people access abortion regardless of their circumstances."

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