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Black Lives Matter

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Image by Sherronda J. Brown

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

Justice for Abortion Access from the Supreme Court Today

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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.

Lilith Fund’s statement of solidarity on the recent Orlando Shooting

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.

In solidarity,

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.

Press Release on Bowl-a-Thon 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 27, 2016

Contact: Amanda Williams

amanda@lilithfund.org

Texas Abortion Fund Works to Raise $75,000 for Abortion Access Despite Cyber Attacks

AUSTIN — This weekend, the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, a Texas abortion fund, is wrapping up a three-month-long community-wide Abortion Access “Bowl-a-Thon” fundraiser with the goal of raising $75,000 for abortion access. Bowl-a-Thon events are being held in Austin, Houston and San Antonio. The Bowl-a-Thon is a national series of fundraising events facilitated by the National Network of Abortion Funds.

On April 14, the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF) was the target of an apparent cyber attack during the most critical time period of their annual nationwide abortion access fundraiser.  Lilith Fund is a Texas-based member of NNAF. As a result of the cyber attacks, the Bowl-a-Thon fundraising website was down for seven consecutive days, resulting in a severe decline in donations to the Lilith Fund. Despite the targeted cyber attacks, Lilith Fund and supporters are working around the clock to make up for funds lost during the time the website was temporarily down.

Efforts to expand access to safe abortion care are in direct response to the ongoing barriers created by an omnibus anti-abortion law, House Bill 2. This Texas law, passed in 2013, is responsible for the closures of nearly half the state’s abortion clinics. The Supreme Court heard arguments on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in March of this year, and a ruling is expected in June. This is the first time the Supreme Court has ruled on abortion since 2007.

“Abortion is a form of healthcare” said Amanda Williams, Executive Director of Lilith Fund, “We won’t let anti-choice bullies, whether online or at the legislature, prevent us from working to ensure that access to safe abortion care is a reality for the people we serve.”

Bowlers and their teams are encouraged to to be creative with costumes, fundraising, and team names in relation to what barriers to abortion they would most like to bowl over. “We think it’s essential for Texas communities to come together to fulfill this essential need in a fun and positive way,” said Schell Carpenter, President of Lilith Fund, “We’re proud to be breaking down barriers that prevent people from getting the abortion care they seek and we are excited that the community is coming together to support this crucial aspect of self-determination.”

Founded in 2001, the Lilith Fund is a non-profit organization that provides small grants to people in central and south Texas who need abortion care but cannot afford it. To show your solidarity with Lilith Fund, donate to the Bowl-a-Thon at bowlathon.nnaf.org and choose Lilith Fund as the recipient of your donation. You can also donate directly to Lilith Fund’s website at www.lilithfund.org.

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Anti-choice cyber attacks won’t stop us

Donate today.

Last week, the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF) was targeted by two apparent anti-choice cyber attacks. Hackers sent emails to supporters with anti-choice propaganda from NNAF email addresses. Because we are working so hard to protect access for ALL people seeking abortion, abortion funds are an obvious target for this kind of attack. And it comes as no surprise that these attacks happened in the midst of many abortion funds’ biggest fundraiser of the year, our annual Bowl-a-Thon. Due to these attacks, the Bowl-a-Thon website has been taken down as a security precaution. To donate to Lilith Fund directly, visit lilithfund.org/donate.

Bowl-a-Thon (BAT) is an online fundraiser where supporters of abortion funds from all across the country raise money to provide financial assistance to people who can’t afford to pay for their abortions. This year, Lilith Fund is hosting BATs in five cities across our service area in Texas.

BAT demonstrates abortion funds’ grassroots power. In many ways, it is what drives our Fund community and brings us together. For some who are new to the intersections of economic injustice, racism, and bodily autonomy, it’s an important entryway into the reproductive justice movement as a whole. BAT isn’t just critical to our work, it is our work–it’s movement building, mobilization, a public awareness tool, and it quite literally enables us to provide direct assistance to clients year-round.

The momentum created through BAT kick starts an entire year of support for our organization and many others, but these cyber attacks are a direct threat to our mission of funding abortion and building power in Texas.

At Lilith Fund, we are going to work even harder to bring in money to make abortion funding possible, but it’s an uphill battle. Our beautiful movement doesn’t deserve this, and our clients certainly don’t, either. As former Lilith Fund President and NNAF staff member Lindsay Rodriguez said, “No matter your stance on this issue, this is a deeply wrong way to cut off healthcare access from people who need it. This is impactful—funds will help fewer people, maybe thousands fewer, across the country because of an interruption like this.”

These cyber attacks could be incredibly detrimental to the livelihood of many abortion funds whose budgets greatly depend on this annual peer-to-peer fundraiser. Before the attacks, Lilith Fund had raised about $53,000 through BAT. We needed to bring in about $1400 per day to reach our goal of $75,000 — and we were on path to meet that goal before the attacks. Since the BAT site has been taken down, unfortunately we have not seen the same level of support.

Many of our BAT participants are, understandably, waiting for the BAT site to come back up so they can continue advocating for this cause, but the time to act is now. We can’t let anti-choice bullies dictate how or when we should build support for abortion access in Texas, or let them attempt to cut off the funding sources that allow abortion funds to serve our clients.

Year-round, we work to break down barriers to safe abortion that were created by the anti-choice movement that has fueled these cyber attacks. We won’t be stopped. But we need your support now to show that no matter what these anti-choice hackers do, they will never shut us down. We will never stop fighting for reproductive justice. We will always be here for Texans who need support. Please donate to us at lilithfund.org/donate and help us reach our goal of $75,000 to make abortion accessible in Texas. We can’t do this alone.

 

Lilith Fund Board & Staff

Celebrating Abortion Providers, Today and Every Day

An Open Letter to Abortion Providers

Today is Abortion Provider Appreciation Day. While many people today are writing letters to thank you for all that you do, you’re at work. Today, you very likely walked past a group of people yelling at you, shaking photoshopped signs intended to intimidate your patients. You probably had hate-filled words hurled at you as you walked from your car into the clinic. You may have even donned a bulletproof vest because you have received death threats many times before.

When these are the obstacles you face just to do your job every day, your job becomes a revolutionary act. To endure bullying, harassment, even violence–against yourself, your staff and your patients–and continue to provide health care, well that makes you a hero.

Abortion providers endure people stalking them at their homes, publishing their personal information online, harassment outside of their clinics and attacks on their ability to provide medical care by politicians. These attacks on clinics and the lives of doctors are a result of the anti-abortion rhetoric and legislation in our state and across our nation.

Like any other doctor, you strive to provide the best possible care to your community with as much compassion and expertise as you can. However, abortion providers, unlike other healthcare professionals, are blatantly singled out by politicians and anti-choice extremists.

We know that recent legislation is, unfortunately, making it more and more difficult for you to do your job. Despite their very limited understanding of the reproductive system–and the law–state legislators rely on misinformation to curb access to abortion for thousands of people.

The recent legislation passed throughout our country are increasingly outlandish and, frankly, dangerous. Every year, the number of regulations grows steadily even though abortion is already one of the most regulated medical procedures. Since 2010, over 1,000 laws have been enacted to restrict abortions. One such law has the potential to set a nationwide precedent, which would drastically affect the ability of millions of people accessing their right to reproductive healthcare.

Right now, the Supreme Court is pondering on the implications of Texas’ House Bill 2. Specifically, they are debating if the requirements within the law present an undue burden for Texans. As the Justices deliberate, you continue working with bated breath because you understand the importance of your work. You’re still bravely performing abortions. You are still doing your job with grace, compassion and tenacity, despite the fact that HB2, and other laws like it, strive to make it almost impossible. This national absurdity would discourage someone else. Yet, you fearlessly persevere. We are in awe of you.

And here’s the thing–you do more than perform abortions. You help people regain a sense of control in their lives. You give them an opportunity to live, grieve and plan their futures in their own way, in their own time. You do all this simply because you trust your patients.

Because of you, millions of people every year are able to exercise their right to bodily autonomy. Because of you, your patients are able to access a medical procedure that is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. Your commitment to providing safe abortions without judgment, and with sincere compassion, is a testament to the highest standard of medical care.

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for existing. Thank you for being here, every day, no matter what. Thank you for providing abortion care.

Sincerely,

Laila Khalili & Lesli-Elsie Simms on behalf of Lilith Fund Board & Staff

If you’d like to show your appreciation and gratitude for abortion providers, you can take part by sending a postcard through the 1 in 3 Campaign.

Lilith Fund’s Executive Director to speak at the Supreme Court Rally next week!

In one week from today, I will be in Washington D.C. sharing Lilith Fund’s work and telling my personal abortion story to thousands of people in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

On that historic day, March 2, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for the Texas case Whole Woman’s v. Hellerstedt regarding House Bill 2, and people from all across the country will rally together in support of abortion rights. The decision will determine the future of abortion access in Texas and could set an extremely important precedent for the rest of the nation.

Since 2001, Lilith Fund has provided small grants to people who seek abortion care in Texas. We’ve seen attacks on our reproductive rights unfold over time, but none as severe as House Bill 2. This omnibus abortion bill threatens to close all but 10 clinics should the Supreme Court fail to permanently block the ambulatory surgical center (“mini-hospital”) and admitting privileges provisions of the law. This would result in only 10 abortion clinics left to serve 5.4 million women in the entire state.

We’ve done our best to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of abortion access in Texas. But as the obstacles to abortion care have grown over time, so have the costs associated with obtaining an abortion. Because our clients now have to pay more for these obstacles such as travel expenses, child care, and lodging over longer periods, they are in need of more funding in order to make their reproductive decisions a true reality.

Needless to say, this law was designed to make it hard for anyone to get a safe abortion in Texas — but it’s especially challenging for low-income people who are struggling to come up with the money to pay for it. At Lilith Fund, there’s no question of the undue burden caused by this law. We know it to be true because we hear about it firsthand from the 4,000 callers who reach our hotline every year. Our volunteers hear from callers who face systemic and direct racism, discrimination, and oppression in every way imaginable. For our callers, the undue burden doesn’t only make seeking care more difficult, it can make safe abortion impossible to obtain.

When I’m in D.C. next week, I’ll be sharing my own experience of how the pursuit of an abortion can be a fight for a chance at a life that we want and deserve to live. While our callers are disproportionately affected by House Bill 2, they’re still fighting to gain access, and they’re working to overcome disastrous barriers to get that very chance. They are resilient and they deserve justice from this decision. We can only hope that the Supreme Court understands the importance of our work and our clients’ experiences. Until then, we’ll continue to fight from Texas all the way to D.C.

Amanda Williams

Executive Director, Lilith Fund

One way to fight back against these harmful restrictions is to donate to Lilith Fund’s biggest fundraiser of the year, our bowl-a-thon. Please consider supporting a bowler, or donate on our website today at www.lilithfund.org.

Harmful Impact of Abortion Restrictions Confirmed: Increased Wait Times, Delayed Care

Independent research confirms that Texas is already seeing the harmful consequences reproductive rights organizations warned would happen following the passage of draconian anti-abortion legislation, leaders of those organizations said today. A new study from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP), released on Monday, reveals that widespread clinic closures are substantially increasing wait times for abortions, pushing women seeking abortion care later into their pregnancies.

Nan Little Kirkpatrick, executive director of the Texas Equal Access Fund, an organization that provides financial assistance for abortion said, “Access to abortion shouldn’t depend on where a person lives or how much money they have, but this is the Texas we live in today. If a person is traveling from Lubbock to Fort Worth and facing waiting periods of 20 days or longer, the level of financial and life stress caused by the combination of finding time off of work, the cost of travel, finding childcare, and the higher cost of a second trimester procedure will put abortion completely out of reach for thousands of Texans.”

Tina Hester, executive director of Jane’s Due Process states, “Such extensive wait times push a minor further into her pregnancy, creating dangerous circumstances in homes where teens are experiencing family violence. Additionally, the cost of the procedure rises significantly when the pregnant teen is forced to wait until the second trimester, placing a tremendous financial burden on a teen who lacks family support.”

Holly Benavides, member of the Board of Directors of the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, an abortion fund providing financial assistance to Texas residents in central, south, west and east Texas, stated, “House Bill 2 has had disastrous effects on access to reproductive health care for people in Texas—especially for Lilith Fund clients in South Texas and non-metropolitan areas of our state. An increase in the wait time for an abortion means greater costs, and will effectively put safe and legal abortion care out of reach for some—especially those disproportionately impacted by income disparity, racism, immigration status, geography, and other barriers.

Natalie St. Clair, operations manager of Fund Texas Choice, an organization providing transportation assistance, shared the struggles of one of their clients, “This morning I had a conversation with a woman who wanted to make an appointment at an Austin clinic last week, but all had waiting times of more than two weeks.  This wait would put her past 22 weeks of pregnancy, when no Texas clinic would be able to see her. Instead she is planning a trip to Albuquerque next week.  We’ll have to plan out every detail so she can take off work, find childcare, book a hotel and a plane for what will be a 6-day trip out of state, all to access an abortion she wanted to get last week at a clinic 45 minutes from her home.”

The research from TxPEP reveals the impact House Bill 2, a Texas law that has already forced more than half the state’s abortion clinics to close since it was passed in 2013, has had on wait times for an abortion. TxPEP found that wait times for an abortion went up to 23 days at clinics in Austin and Fort Worth.

Organizations working in the field are already seeing the impact of the clinic closures. These groups include the Texas Equal Access Fund, The Lilith Fund, Whole Woman’s Health, ACLU of Texas, Progress Texas, Texas Freedom Network, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Jane’s Due Process,Fund Texas Choice, Frontera Fund, West Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and Shift.

Initially posted by ProgressTexas.org here.

Now Accepting Applications for the 2016 Lilith Fund Board of Directors

The Lilith Fund, a Texas-based abortion fund, is looking for energetic leaders with a commitment to abortion access to join our Board of Directors. Lilith provides direct financial assistance to low-income Texans seeking abortion services and our board members actively oversee and participate in the work of the organization.

We have a wide and diverse client base and we hope to achieve that kind of diversity in our board. Serving on the Board of Directors is a great opportunity for young leaders to gain valuable experience and we encourage young people to apply.

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 and others who are repeatedly and systematically affected by reproductive inequities. People of color and LGBTQIA people are strongly encouraged to apply.

Although our office is based in Austin, we are interested in recruiting board members from Houston/Gulf Coast, San Antonio, south Texas, El Paso, and Austin areas. We’re particularly interested in applicants with a background in non-profit fundraising, non-profit financial management, accounting, database administration, and data analysis.

The Lilith Fund has a part-time hotline coordinator, but board members will have the responsibilities and duties of a working board. Board members should expect to spend at least 5 hours per week working for the organization. Our board meets monthly, either in person, via conference call, or via chat, but we also have 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 2016 Board Member Application and send a resume to info@lilithfund.org by November 15, 2015.

What Happened in Charleston is a Reproductive Justice Issue

As you know, last week a domestic terrorist walked into the historic Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, SC and murdered nine people: Sharonda Coleman Singleton,  Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, DePayne Middleton Doctor, Clementa Pinckney, Myra Thompson, Tywanza Sanders, and Daniel Simmons Sr.

We are holding the families of these victims in our thoughts and join the many protesters in the work of unraveling the framework upholding the wretched lie of white supremacy.

White supremacy, racialized violence and lack of safety for people of color are issues of reproductive justice.

Lilith Fund believes that in order to succeed in the movement towards reproductive justice, we must dismantle the structures that prevent us from building a society that truly values the lives and wellbeing of people of color.

These inequitable structures produce countless difficulties, including poorer health outcomes and limited access to care for people of color in the United States. These are but a couple of examples of our country’s battle against bodies of color that we can work towards eradicating in an effort to build a society based on intersectional justice.

If these topics are new to you, or you want resources to help reach out within your local communities, this guide provided by the African American Intellectual History Society is very helpful:  http://aaihs.org/resources/charlestonsyllabus/

May the victims of this atrocity rest in peace and may their families find solace in the change-making justice that will be sought on their behalf.