Good Morning. My name is Amanda Williams, I’m the Executive Director of the Lilith Fund, which is an abortion fund that provides financial assistance to low-income people seeking abortion care in the southern half of Texas. We’re also a member of the Trust Respect Access Coalition.
Today I am speaking in strong opposition to SB 8, SB 258, and SB 415.
Lilith Fund clients make up the communities that are most impacted by abortion restrictions of any kind. They are primarily low-income women of color who have children already, who are working to make ends meet, often working multiple jobs and going to school, all while caring for their families. Abortion coverage is often completely out of reach for our clients. And in many cases barriers to coverage have pushed our callers into a dire health care gap that is both unacceptable and ethically unjust.
Instead of passing laws that could increase costs for patients, perpetuate stigma and shame, and force providers to practice medicine against their own best judgement, our state leaders should focus on making sure that all people have the power, resources, and community support they need to make their reproductive decisions a reality. People seeking abortion care services, regardless of economic status, should be treated with respect, dignity, and compassion. These laws would do nothing to improve reproductive health care in Texas, and will only act to further burden, and potentially prevent, those Texans in exercising their right to a safe and legal abortion.
There is no discernible public health reason for these bills, but what does seem clear is that these attempts to interfere with a patient’s reproductive autonomy are part of a larger agenda to further disenfranchise marginalized communities seeking reproductive health care services, including abortion care. If public health and safety or quote-unquote “respect for life” are the true motivation for these proposed laws, as it should be when creating any policy related to the provision of health care, then policies from this body should encourage more access to comprehensive reproductive health care for low-income communities, not less.
Lilith Fund is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that funds abortion and advocates for change through the movement for reproductive justice. Our vision is a Texas where all people have the means and opportunity to plan their futures and families with dignity, respect and community support.
SB 4 directly threatens Lilith Fund clients and their communities. SB 4 stigmatizes and endangers undocumented people in Texas and puts up barriers to critical services, including reproductive health care. Lilith Fund clients often travel hundreds of miles to reach the nearest clinic. For undocumented people, SB 4 would greatly increase their risk of being detained and deported if local law enforcement officials are allowed to demand proof of their immigration status. This threat of discovery could prevent Lilith Fund clients from seeking the healthcare they need and force them to continue pregnancies they do not desire. Actions by local governments — so called “sanctuary cities” — to not participate in optional federal programs and not act as federal civil immigration enforcement attempt to end this dangerous cycle of scaring and threatening undocumented people in Texas, and instead allow them to live their daily lives and access health care with less fear. Texans should not forgo health care because they are afraid of being detained, imprisoned, or deported.
SB 4 also has untold ramifications for our clients beyond access to abortion care. The unclear language and implementation process imply that SB 4 could end access to U visas, an asylum program for undocumented individuals who are survivors of violent crime, including domestic abuse, and are working with U.S. authorities to prosecute their abusers. Proposed additions to SB 4 would also end protections for undocumented students on college campuses, cutting off access to higher education, a better quality of life and higher earning potential. These are just a few of the dangerous ramifications of this anti-immigrant legislation.
Immigrant justice is reproductive justice. On behalf of the Lilith Fund and our clients I speak in firm opposition to SB 4.
-Testimony presented by Schell Carpenter on behalf of Lilith Fund
As 2016 comes to a close, we are reflecting on our accomplishments this year and our work funding abortion for the last fifteen years in Texas. Thanks to your generosity, we look forward to building an even stronger network of support for our clients and our community in 2017.
Lilith Fund is participating in SisterSong’s #RJResolutions campaign to choose resolutions that reaffirmour fierce commitment to creating a Texas where all people have the resources and support needed to make their reproductive decisions a reality, and challengeusto be courageous partners in this work with our community.
We resolve to resist hateful rhetoric and anti-choice attacks in our communities.
In just a few weeks, Donald Trump will be sworn in as president and the 85th Texas Legislative Session will begin. We face many challenges—including dangerous policies and laws—targeting abortion rights, people of color, immigrants, refugees, the LGBTQ community, and many more. We will not tolerate any attacks on marginalized or vulnerable communities. We will speak up and we will resist—together.
We resolve to be in radical collaboration with our communities and draw strength from one another.
Our movements for reproductive health, rights and justice do not exist on their own. Our work intersects with that of other movements, and we will listen to those movements, to leaders fighting for justice in our neighborhoods and our cities. Now more than ever, we need to unite in solidarity and take action together. There is strength in our numbers. We will show up and be present.
We resolve to build greater compassion for our callers, our abortion providers, and our supporters who partner with us to make abortion access a reality.
We will be courageous, kind, and compassionate. We will direct our energy into cultivating an inclusive and empathetic community. No matter what the future holds, we resolve to do this work with love.
Will you join us in working towards our vision for a more just Texas? Use the hashtag #RJResolutions to share your own resolutions for reproductive justice on social media, and make your end-of-year gift to Lilith Fund today. Your support makes our work possible.
Thank you for sticking with us through 2016. We look forward to partnering with you in the New Year!
As we reflect on 2016, we are so grateful for your support. Your incredible dedication to our work has allowed us to accomplish so much this year, and we couldn’t have done it without you.
This election cycle has been overwhelming for those of us who, like you, are invested in protecting abortion access. Like you, we’ve been looking for actions we can take to begin our resistance and reaffirm our resilience. We believe that funding abortion is an act of resistance.
We also believe that in order to resist, we need to nourish ourselves and our community. Our hard work—your hard work and support—have helped us get this far. Together, we have already accomplished so much.
Here are highlights of our accomplishments in 2016:
Provided funding to 1,286 clients and offered vouchers amounting to $265,517 to date.
Hired our first-ever executive director, Amanda Williams, who has grown Lilith Fund’s impact by expanding donor engagement, strengthening infrastructure, and deepening our movement-building work.
Celebrated our historic Fifteenth Anniversary and held celebrations in Austin and Houston, as well as our fabulous quinceañera in San Antonio!
Marked the significant milestone of 10,000 clients served.
Continued our proactive local policy work on the Repro Power Texas campaign, in partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, Texas Equal Access Fund, and Texas Freedom Network.
Laid the groundwork for our participation in policy advocacy during the 2017 Legislative Session and beyond.
Renewed our commitment to anti-racist organizing and participated in an extensive Undoing Racism training with other Texas abortion funds.
Brought Lilith Fund into the national spotlight when our executive director spoke against House Bill 2 on the steps of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Expanded our reach through media interviews and op-eds in major publications including: Austin Chronicle, Vox, Glamour, TribTalk, Vice, Mic, Salon, Texas Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Huffington Post, Women’s Health Magazine, Texas Observer, The Guardian, and more.
No matter what lies ahead in 2017, Lilith Fund is committed to resisting oppressive forces and lifting up our community. The messages of hate perpetuated by anti-choice politicians will not stop us from fighting for a world where all people have access to the resources they need, including abortion care.
Thanks to your partnership, we’ve been able to provide compassionate and consistent service to our callers for the last fifteen years. Your donation to Lilith Fund enables us to fund abortion, raise awareness of barriers to care, and work strategically with local, state, and national allies to push for systemic change. Thank you for joining us in this fight!
Lilith Fund, a Texas-based abortion fund, is looking for an energetic leader with a commitment to abortion access to join our Board of Directors. Lilith Fund provides direct financial assistance to low-income people in the southern half of Texas seeking abortion services, and our board members actively oversee and participate in the work of the organization. There is currently one opening on our Board of Directors.
As an organization committed to reproductive justice, we have a responsibility to create a pipeline of leadership and development opportunities for young people, low-income people, people of color, LGBTQIA people, people with disabilities, and others who are repeatedly and systematically affected by reproductive inequities. We believe people directly impacted by these issues are best positioned to design and lead solutions. People of color, young people, and LGBTQIA people are strongly encouraged to apply.
Although our office is based in Austin, we are interested in recruiting board members from San Antonio, Houston/Gulf Coast, South Texas, West Texas, and Central Texas areas. We’re particularly interested in applicants with a background in grassroots/nonprofit fundraising, community organizing, advocacy, accounting, and database administration.
Lilith Fund has a part-time hotline coordinator and full-time Executive Director located in Austin, but board members will have the responsibilities and duties of a working board. Board members should expect to spend ~5 hours per week working for the organization. Board activities are divided into committees, where most of our work occurs. Our board meets monthly, either in person or via video conference call. We also hold quarterly in-person meetings in rotating cities where we have board representation. We do offer partially subsidized travel costs to board members traveling to board meetings.
There is an application and interview process for interested applicants. Please complete the 2017 Board Member Application and send a resume to email@example.com before midnight on December 19, 2016.
Earlier this week on November 15th, Lilith Fund’s Executive Director, Amanda Williams, and Board Member, Alice Aguilar, joined activists in Austin for the National #NoDAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) Day of Action.
At Lilith Fund, we see the clear connections between reproductive, economic, and environmental justice in our clients’ everyday lives. Low-income families and people of color are disproportionately exposed to dangerous and toxic environmental conditions caused by refineries, waste dumps, pipelines, and plants located in their communities. These communities bear the brunt of health disparities as a result of unhealthy conditions and various types of pollution and contamination.
On this Day of Action, indigenous leaders encouraged communities to take to the streets and disrupt “business-as-usual” one week after the election to demand that President Obama’s Army Corps of Engineers and the incoming administration stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. They’ve called for people to stand in solidarity in peaceful resistance to demand that all decisions made regarding the pipeline must honor indigenous rights and human rights over corporate interests.
We participated in this day of action in solidarity with those at Standing Rock, and we join as them as they demand the federal government reject this dangerous pipeline.
Bodily autonomy, health, and safety are core values of both reproductive and environmental justice.When pipelines, like the proposed DAPL, disrupt the lands and sacred sites of indigenous peoples and risk contaminating waters, we see a clear violation of people’s reproductive and human rights. All people should have the right to live their lives in healthy conditions that allow us to flourish and grow.
The land and water being jeopardized is the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation, which was established as a permanent homeland for the Hunkpapa, Yanktonai, Cuthead and Blackfoot bands of the Great Sioux Nation. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe relies on the waters of the life-giving Missouri River for their continued existence, and the DAPL poses a serious risk to the source of fresh water of the Mni Sose and to the very survival of their tribe and 8 million people living downstream.
We are in solidarity with the Indigenous people, the water protectors, leading the resistance at Standing Rock and we call upon our reproductive justice community to join us in seeing these injustices as a concern of our movement and taking actions where we can. For information on how to support the local organizers at Standing Rock visit http://sacredstonecamp.organd http://www.ocetisakowincamp.org.
This morning, our country woke up to news that Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States. While we cannot depend on electoral politics alone to bring justice to our communities, Trump’s victory speaks volumes to the systematic racism, bigotry, xenophobia, sexism, and violence that is accepted among [overwhelmingly white] voters in our country.
Our hearts break for communities of color, LGBTQ people, undocumented families, immigrants, people with disabilities, low-income people, survivors of sexual assault, people who are seeking or who have had abortions, and anyone else whose very existence and wellbeing now feels threatened by a Trump/Pence Administration.
This election, from the start, has sent dangerous messages to and about these communities. Messages of hate, bigotry, divisiveness, misogyny, and white supremacy have created the very culture that has allowed Trump to win this election. We vehemently demean the institutions and systematic oppression that normalizes these messages.
Overnight, we are left with an anti-choice Congress, an anti-choice president-elect, an anti-choice majority in the Texas state legislature and an anti-choice governor as well as lieutenant governor. Indeed, things ahead seem very bleak for those of us in the reproductive justice community in our state and beyond.
We want to make space for healing. It is through healing that we can truly strengthen our community and movement towards reproductive justice. Healing is not only necessary for our own humanity, it is necessary for our collective resistance. This is why we lean on each other. This is why we mourn together and give space for grief, pain, loss, and fears. These feelings are valid and we want to affirm the struggles of people who are most impacted by power structures that were never built for them.
At Lilith Fund, we envision a world where all people have the rights, power, and access to the resources they need, including safe abortion care. While we call for healing, we had over 50 calls on our hotline today. We will continue our work. We won’t stop fighting until we’ve created that world, and the results of any election won’t change our commitment to that. If you are hurting right now, please know that we see you and we are with you. We all deserve better than this. Let’s hold each other close.
This week, we went to bed and woke up to the news of two more Black men gunned down by police. Their names were added to the growing list of murdered Black Americans immortalized as hashtags.
At Lilith Fund, we proudly advocate for change within the reproductive justice framework; therefore, when we learn news of violence and oppression against people of color perpetuated by systems of power, we are committed to speaking out. We will be neither silent nor neutral during such oppression. We recognize the intersection between reproductive justice and systematic police violence, especially as it relates to Black people, their families and their children. We acknowledge this issue as an epidemic that not only affects our clients, but also our supporters, volunteers, and board members. Their experiences are valid.
We actively affirm that freedom from police violence and racial justice are reproductive justice issues. When Black fathers, like Alton Sterling and Eric Garner, are murdered in city streets, Black families are impeded from having the families they want and deserve. Our hearts break for every family affected by state sanctioned police violence.
It is impossible to not feel a range of emotions when confronted with the images and videos of Black bodies murdered by the police. As an organization, we are committed to lifting up the experiences of people of color and work to address structural barriers to bodily autonomy, including the unacceptable police brutality that ravages our communities.
To our Black supporters and friends, we want to take a moment and speak to you directly. We ask that you make space for those healing in your community. We ask that you hold onto your joy selfishly. We ask that you take care of yourself. We see your resiliency as much as we see your anger and heartbreak. We see you.
In closing, Black Lives Matter.
Lesli-Elsie Simms, Lilith Fund Board Member, on behalf of Lilith Fund Board of Directors and Staff
This morning the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a historic decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the court case challenging two provisions in House Bill 2, the abortion clinic shutdown law passed following the filibuster three years ago this week.
During oral arguments this past March, attorneys representing Whole Woman’s Health argued that two of the key provisions in this bill created an “undue burden” for people in Texas.
In a 5-3 decision, the Court affirmed what we already know – that the challenged provisions of House Bill 2 are unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. This sets a precedent across the country stating clearly that admitting privileges and the surgical center standards requirement place an undue burden on people seeking abortion care.
This is a huge win for people in Texas, as it will allow clinics to reopen where they can, and protects against the further erosion of abortion care in Texas under this restrictive law.
Lilith Fund’s callers make up the communities that are most impacted by clinic shutdown laws like House Bill 2. They are primarily low-income women of color who are working to care for their families and make ends meet. 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. But we have not stood idly by. At Lilith Fund, we believe all people should have the power, resources, and community support they need to make their reproductive decisions a reality.
When House Bill 2 first came into effect back in 2013, we saw immediate, drastic consequences among the people we serve. Our clients had to scramble to find clinics that could meet the stringent requirements of this law; many faced confusion and frustration after learning they would now have to travel hundreds of miles, take multiple days off work, and come up with even more funding for the logistical barriers they needed to overcome. Most recently, we have seen wait times become so long that many of our clients are seeking care in neighboring states, more so than ever before in our 15-year history as a fund. These obstacles faced by our clients ARE undue burdens.
We are extremely pleased that the Supreme Court has recognized these undue burdens and has ruled to reaffirm constitutional reproductive rights for the people of Texas. This is a win for our clients and all people in Texas who need access to safe and legal abortion. We will always have work to do to make abortion truly accessible and affordable in this state, but this is a huge step towards dismantling hundreds of harmful and medically unnecessary laws across the country.
By keeping clinic doors open, and paving the way for more clinics to open or reopen, we are creating a more just Texas, where people can truly have the ability to make reproductive decisions that are best for themselves and their families.
We are in deep mourning after learning of the tragic mass shooting in Orlando, Florida where a man shot and killed 50 people and injured 53 at Pulse, a known LGBTQIA nightclub. Notably, the shooting happened on a Latin dance night, and many of the victims’ names that have been released so far are Latinx. This targeted attack on queer people of color is said to be the nation’s deadliest mass shooting since Wounded Knee.
We are reeling from this tragedy. Our hearts break for the victims and their families, friends, and communities.
As an active participant in the movement and pursuit towards reproductive justice for all, we are united in solidarity against any form of violence towards those living at the various intersections of race, gender, trans, and queer identities.
Queer and trans people of color continue to fight vigorously to resist and dismantle the institutions that work to control and suppress our bodies, sexualities, identities, and humanity. These very institutions breed the hate and fear that allowed the shooter to commit such heinous violence. We all must recognize that we cannot have reproductive justice without justice for and liberation of queer and trans people of color. We cannot leave anyone behind in the fight for abortion rights and bodily autonomy.
We are in solidarity with the rest of our community members who are also reeling from this severe violation of what have been our safe spaces, like Pulse has been for many in Orlando. Furthermore, we strongly denounce the fear-mongering rhetoric and violent threats directed at Muslim members of our community, who are continuing to be terrorized by misplaced hate and Islamophobia.
We are resilient, fierce, and united in the face of the hatred that actively attempts to silence and reject who we are. This attack did not occur in a political vacuum and we do not accept that it was unavoidable. We demand meaningful change from our nation; queer and trans people of color deserve to live and thrive in safety.
We are with you, Orlando.
Queer members of Lilith Fund’s Board of Directors and Executive Director on behalf of Lilith Fund
PS – To support the Orlando community, click here.