Statement: Supreme Court Decision on WWH v. Hellerstedt
The National Network of Abortion Funds applauds the Supreme Court’s 5-3 decision to uphold our constitutional right to abortion by striking down HB2, a law designed to shut down abortion clinics in the state of Texas.
Since the 2013 passing of Texas House Bill 2 (HB2), we have been waiting for SCOTUS to do the right thing and reaffirm that abortion is in fact legal in the United States. HB2 would have made a myriad of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws acceptable—including requiring doctors have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals and that patients make multiple visits to their clinics—all of which have severe impacts on those seeking access to reproductive healthcare.
Striking down HB2 means that Texas can begin to rebuild access to abortion that’s been unreasonably and unjustly diminished across the state. It will take a considerable amount of time for clinics to replace the doctors, staff, and facilities lost during these long years marked by financial and logistical hardships. Nevertheless, we hope to see an increase in abortion access for Texas.
There is still work to be done. One instance of victory does not yet create the support and access we truly need for abortion to be not just legal, but a reality for anyone who needs it. When TRAP laws like HB2 are recognized as unconstitutional, it gives organizations that fund abortion the ability to focus on barriers like the Hyde Amendment, waiting periods, parental consent laws, and mandated counseling laws.
That’s why many abortion funds are working in coalition with All* Above All and 118 Congressional co-sponsors of the EACH Woman Act to end the Hyde Amendment and all other budgetary restrictions that prevent coverage of abortion care. This day is 40 years in the making, and it’s coming soon.
Until we have full insurance coverage for abortion, those most impacted by current and past restrictions, particularly people of color and people experiencing financial barriers, will still face immense hurdles, including travel costs, time off from work, child care, the expense of paying for the procedure itself, as well as other systemic obstacles.
This reality was illustrated by people like Tiffany, a 30-year-old Latina from Flint, Texas, who shared her experience of seeking an abortion after HB2 in the amicus brief the National Network of Abortion Funds submitted to the Supreme Court in this case:
“After Tiffany became aware of her pregnancy at 11 weeks gestation, she obtained an estimate of the cost of an abortion and learned that she would need time to save money to afford the procedure because she was uninsured. After she saved $300, she sought to schedule an appointment in Dallas, encountering another delay in obtaining an appointment due to congestion at the clinic. By the time Tiffany had raised $300 and obtained an appointment in Dallas, she had reached 18 weeks gestation and the cost of the abortion had risen to $1,700, well beyond the sum she could afford or raise. In addition to the cost of the procedure, Tiffany also struggled to afford the cost of transportation to Dallas, three hours roundtrip, plus an overnight hotel stay.”
Said Yamani Hernandez, Executive Director of the National Network of Abortion Funds,
“We are thrilled the Supreme Court stood up to ensure access to abortion care in Texas. Rulings like today’s set an important precedent protecting abortion rights, and ensure more people have access to compassionate abortion with less state-inflicted trauma and violence. No matter the climate, our network will always be here to fund abortion and help build the path towards abortion access and reproductive freedom.”
As Amanda Williams, Executive Director of the Lilith Fund, an abortion fund serving Texans, said regarding those affected in her state:
“Abortion coverage is completely out of reach for them, whether it’s because they are underinsured or because abortion coverage under Medicaid is banned by the federal Hyde Amendment or because they simply can’t afford the extreme out-of-pocket expenses needed to navigate the barriers created by House Bill 2. For the last few years, this has pushed our callers into a dire health care gap that is both unacceptable and ethically unjust.”
Said Nan Little-Kirkpatrick, Executive Director of the Texas Equal Access Fund:
“We’re extremely relieved that the Supreme Court has decided to come down on the side of justice in regards to the Texas abortion restrictions that closed so many clinics. These laws have already done so much to damage access to abortion in our state and have impacted thousands of people trying to exercise bodily autonomy. We hope more clinics will open in Texas in response. However, I want to remind people that TEA Fund has been around since 2005 to serve people who want an abortion and cannot afford it. While we are happy with this particular ruling and what it means for people in Texas and beyond, we are still in what has been a long fight to ensure access for all people regardless of economic circumstance.”
In order to fully restore the legal right to abortion, we must continue to fight for a society free of racism and economic oppression, one in which each person has the ability to shape their own family. Across the nation, we will remain relentless and uninterrupted in our efforts to fund abortion and uplift the voices and struggles of those seeking access to this crucial aspect of reproductive health care.
National Network of Abortion Funds is a network of 70 grassroots organizations in 38 states that are funding abortion and building power to create cultural & political change. NNAF provides technical support and infrastructure for member funds and runs its own abortion fund, the George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund. In 2014, NNAF and member organizations received 116,000 requests, and assisted 30,000 individuals seeking $3.5 million in funding for abortions, transportation assistance, translation, childcare and homestays.
Lilith Fund funds abortion and advocates for change through the movement for reproductive justice, assisting Texans in exercising their fundamental right to abortion by removing barriers to access. Lilith provides direct financial assistance to empower people in central and south Texas seeking to terminate a pregnancy. Last year, Lilith Fund provided grants to over 1,300 people who otherwise would not have been able to afford a safe abortion.
The Texas Equal Access Fund helps low-income and disadvantaged people who want an abortion and do not have enough money to pay for it. Clients are residents of North Texas who seek an abortion at a clinic in the region. The TEA Fund helps people afford the choice that will allow them to care for the children they already have, maintain their health, pursue their educations, leave unhealthy situations, and pay the next month’s bills.