Tomorrow the big case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, goes before the Supreme Court of the United States. At stake is abortion access for hundreds of thousands of Texans and millions of people across the country living in states that will surely enact similar laws if HB2 is upheld. Many of the people who are most under threat are the same people who call our abortion access hotline every week seeking assistance paying for abortions they cannot afford. We have seen first-hand the impacts of HB2, and it only stands to get worse if SCOTUS decides to allow the entire law to go into effect.
Tomorrow the legal team representing Whole Woman's Health will argue the case for abortion access. And then we wait. We will wait until most likely June to hear a decision. During that time, places like Lubbock, Texas will continue to have no abortion provider, forcing the people living in that community to either carry a pregnancy to term against their best judgment, or forcing them to drive hundreds of miles to receive care. You've probably heard that story hundreds of times now if you've been keeping up. But when I hear that story, I think of a very specific person, and this specific person's story is why I continue to fight for abortion access for all.
A young woman in Lubbock, Texas had an appointment for an abortion. She would need to travel 300 miles to Fort Worth for an appointment. She had funding to help with the procedure, but she missed her appointment -- she didn't have gas money to get from Lubbock to Fort Worth. It would be two weeks before she could get another appointment at the same clinic, which sent her scrambling to try to get a sooner appointment at a different DFW clinic while trying to figure out how she was going to get there. And for people without resources in small Texas communities, communication can be an issue; work schedules can make it difficult to pick up the phone when the agency trying to provide care calls to get more details and find solutions to problems, and sharing phones amongst family members or losing access to a phone can further complicate the issue.
Have you ever had to work that hard to gain access to healthcare?
A client sent us a note the other day. "TEAF is definitely a necessary organization because everyone has different situations and there's good to know we as women have options." When you think about your own life, you know the power of having options. But what if, due to geography, lack of access to education or economic opportunity, and laws that disproportionately impact low-income communities of color and rural communities, you didn't have options? That's what HB2 has done to Texas. It's not the only law working against our clients; we believe there won't be full abortion access for everyone until bans on federal funding for abortion are removed. But striking down HB2 will be a great step toward justice.
When we wake up on Thursday, the fate of Texans and their access to abortion will still be hanging in the balance. We hope that you will remember that every day we will be here fighting so that people can have options, because self-determination is the cornerstone of justice.
And we look forward to June with hope that justice will prevail.
Nan Little Kirkpatrick
Texas Equal Access Fund