"We fund abortion": the 2014 Texas Practical Support Convening
February 3rd, 2014
Here’s another reason to be inspired by abortion fund activists: while Texas legislators are restricting access to abortion, abortion funds and other grassroots groups have been working harder than ever to help people get the care they want and need.
On January 17-19, 2014, the National Network of Abortion Funds hosted the Texas Practical Support Convening, bringing together clinics, abortion funds, practical support groups, abortion doulas, lawyers, and community organizers. The Convening was the result of months of planning set into action when Texas passed far-reaching restrictions in the summer of 2013 which have already resulted in clinic closures, leaving residents in some areas of the state with no options at all.
Tiffany Tai, our Member Support Associate, attended the Convening and prepared this encouraging report:
Our goal at the Texas Practical Support Convening was to strategize, coordinate, and network with each other—and after many, many months of planning, to finally get in the same room!
“Hearing the diversity of ideological approaches contextualized and validated my own work. Hearing others’ reasons for being involved was both inspiring and energizing – this is critical to stave off burn out. This made me feel less alone.”
About 40 people attended, representing hundreds of activists and 12 different groups currently working in Texas, 7 of which are NNAF member funds. While abortion funds like the Texas Equal Access Fund and the Lilith Fund continue to help callers pay for their abortions, others like Fund Texas Women and the Clinic Access Support Network make it possible for patients to travel to a clinic and ensure that they have a place to stay.
That’s just the beginning. Other groups are providing doula care, legal representation, community organizing opportunities, and more. Check out the impressive roster of groups and organizations that came to the Texas Practical Support Convening with the goal of increasing abortion access in Texas:
- The Bridge Collective
- The Cicada Collective
- Clinic Access Support Network
- Fund Texas Women
- Jane’s Due Process
- Lilith Fund
- NARAL Pro-Choice Texas
- Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains
- Texas Equal Access Fund
- The West Fund
- Whole Woman’s Health
“I gained skills by stepping outside of [my] perspective and understanding how other organizations provide resources and services, while all having some of the same goals as me. It also was great to know that others are as committed to reproductive justice in Texas!”
We kicked off the weekend with an evening reception.
Community activists who couldn’t attend the Texas Practical Support Convening were invited to meet our participants.
State Representative Gene Wu and the office of state Representative Jessica Farrar stopped by, as did some Lilith Fund board members!
Bright and early on Saturday morning, we dove into the political landscape of Texas and the landscape of abortion access. On the biggest map of Texas we could find, we plotted out the service areas of each group and exactly what they do.
We could clearly visualize where our work overlapped and where we have to keep branching out.
Attendees also got some hands-on training from two member funds that have been doing practical support for a long time: California’s ACCESS Women’s Health Justice and the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
“I came away from this meeting with a clearer perspective on challenges faced by women and organizers in other regions of Texas, as well as resources available to us as an organization, [such as] practical knowledge older groups have gained through experience.”
On Sunday, we dug into some of the hard questions. How much risk are we taking on? How do racial justice, immigration justice, LGBTQ rights, and economic justice play out in our work? How will we coordinate our actions?
“Spent the entire weekend at a convening of Texas abortion funds, providers, and support networks planning for how we'll work together in the future. It was an incredible meeting of diverse groups with different goals and tactics with two big shared values: we all believe in self-determination and options, and we believe everyone should have access to abortion.
I'm not naive; we all know things are going from horrible to even worse in September, but it was pivotal work to get in a room and make connections so that when the ground falls out from under us even more, we can create an interconnected network to help less people fall through the cracks of a broken system. It's incredible to be in a room working as a part of a group that gives their all for ALL the people of Texas”
The conversation has just begun. We can’t wait to see what will come out of this energetic group of activists. We’re staying tuned in Texas, and so should you!
Pictured: Texas Equal Access Fund board member Kamyon Conner and Lilith Fund President Lindsay Rodriguez, sporting Lilith Fund t-shirts (for sale here.)
Learn more about the challenges Texans face: Read a synopsis of the January 21, 2014 online chat between Texas abortion fund activists and NNAF Executive Director Stephanie Poggi.