Texas abortion ban sends women out of state, draining aid funds | national

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Nonprofits that help women seeking abortions plan to allocate more of their funds to sending women out of state to obtain the procedure in the face of new Republican restrictions in the South, but the list of destinations is narrowing.

The additional time and expense will deplete the resources of abortion funds, which help women who cannot afford the procedure on their own. The new restrictions will hit low-income black women, who make up a significant portion of their clientele, the hardest. Texas’ new restrictions, which ban abortions after six weeks and allow anyone to prosecute providers suspected of having violated the measure, only increase the pressure on abortion funds as more and more Republican-led states are looking to see if the law survives legal scrutiny.

“For the first time in the history of this organization, we’re going to have to tell black women ‘no’ and we won’t be able to really help. That’s 90% of the people we serve, ”said Marsha Jones, co-founder and executive director of the Afiya Center, a reproductive rights center in Dallas.

Black women had the highest abortion rate in 2017, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The Texas ban will also scare low-income, minority women who are most at risk for certain cancers from seeking other regular health check-ups provided by groups like Planned Parenthood, advocates fear.

The cost of abortions depends on many different factors, including how far the mother has traveled, who the provider is, what method will be used, and sometimes where it is. They typically start around $ 300 and can go up to at least $ 1,500 for drugs and procedures, according to various abortion advocacy groups.

Moving patients to states like Colorado or New Mexico costs an average of $ 2,000 a month for funds like the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund, but new abortion restrictions could increase that number, Laurie Bertram said. Roberts, co-founder of the Mississippi Fund and executive director of the Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama.

Finding money for an abortion was already a hurdle before Texas’ new law, especially for low-income black women, but the longer the wait, the more expensive the abortion, said Kamyon Conner, director. Executive of the Texas Equal Access Fund. .

“Now imagine yourself thinking, ‘I can’t have an abortion in the state of Texas, so I’m going to have to travel somewhere, and it’ll probably take me at least two more weeks to plan this,’ which means the price goes up more than if they had access to their abortion the week they found out they were pregnant.

Historically, black mothers have had the highest maternal mortality rates. The maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic black women was 44 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is 2.5 times more than white women and 3.5 times the rate for Hispanic women.

“You’re going to force people to carry pregnancy to term which we know in the state of Texas itself, if they are black, can lead to death. The maternal mortality rate is still not where we needed to be, ”Jones said.

Black women in Texas account for 31% of deaths while they account for just 11% of live births, according to data from the state’s health department.

New Mexico is a likely destination for women seeking an abortion after Texas’s six-week window, Jones said.

However, Oklahoma, which itself is preparing new abortion restrictions, has seen an increase in requests since the Texas measure took effect, said Susan Braselton, a board member and coordinator of clinical escorts at the Roe Fund in Oklahoma.

“Normally we would have maybe 20-30. But last week I think we had over 50, ”she said.

Crossing state lines often means draining funds from two different nonprofits, Roberts said.

“In order for these Texas patients to be served, they have to come out of Texas, which means it’s not just Texas funds helping them,” Roberts said.

“Some people don’t even call Texas funds. They call the funds where they go. If you’re going to come to Alabama, you call the Alabama fund. So we are already seeing these calls.

For women who seek help, traveling to have an abortion not only affects their health, but can also jeopardize their jobs. Aid can help cover travel costs and a hotel stay, but women who need help from abortion funds often work in low-income jobs with little or no sick leave.

The six-week window to get an abortion in Texas hits these women harder because they have so little time to raise the money.

“Their jobs are not what the company deems essential, even though they are,” Jones said.

“These are the people who work in fast food restaurants. These are the Uber drivers. These are the people who deliver our groceries. But because they can’t bounce back from what could be a 3-4 day trip, they could potentially lose their jobs. It’s huge.”

Another effect of Texas law is that some women may ignore wellness checks and other gynecology services provided by groups like Planned Parenthood, Jones said.

“It’s the feeling or the fear of ‘If I can’t have an abortion, I can’t have nothing else there. And I’m not going to go because I don’t want people to think I’m going to have an abortion, ”she said.

Black women typically contract HPV-associated cervical cancer at higher rates than women of other races or ethnicities, possibly due to lack of access to screening tests or follow-up treatment, according to the CDC.

“And because of that, we won’t catch cancers, like breast and cervical cancer early enough, especially if they can’t access them or can’t afford a test,” Jones added.

“Those very feminine exams they need may not take place. We will not get good uterine care, which could affect long-term decisions about parenting. There are people who still depend on Planned Parenthood for testing for other sexually transmitted infections that could interfere with parenting choices later in the future, ”she said.

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Planned Parenthood receives funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charity founded by Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg Law is operated by entities controlled by Michael Bloomberg.

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