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A letter from Lilith Fund’s white board members on Charlottesville

Dear friends,

As white board members of this organization, and in the aftermath of the events in Charlottesville, VA, we’d like to speak to our white supporters directly about our responsibility to acknowledge and dismantle white supremacy.

Many people, particularly white people, expressed shock or disbelief about the events in Charlottesville. Similar disbelief was expressed after the election of Donald Trump (even though 53% of white women voters cast a ballot for Donald Trump). Many white folks  have said or have wanted to say that “this is not us,” or “this is not America.” We must be clear: this has always been America. The United States of America was created on the foundation of white supremacy and the colonization of people of color. White supremacy did not begin with the election of Donald Trump—his election to the presidency is a result of it. The death of Heather Heyer and the multiple acts of aggression and violence against counter protesters in Charlottesville, VA were fueled by white supremacists.

The reason our organization discusses race, racism, and white supremacy is because it is critical to our work. Racism and white supremacy play a role in the policies, systems, and everyday lives of the people we serve. Racism requires a combination of prejudice—attitudes everyone can have—and power. Many racist attitudes and behaviors are expressed without explicit intent and therefore perpetuated and treated as normal in our society because this country was founded on the exploitation and enslavement of Black people, Jim Crow laws, and a legacy of violence against people of color. This normalization of racism is partly why systemic inequities still exist. As white people, we have a responsibility to accept that racism has played, and continues to play, a part in all aspects of society: whether it be our policing system, housing policies, or in deciding who, how, and when people can have children.

Historically, the abortion rights movement, in conjunction with the mainstream women’s rights movement, has centered the experiences of white, heterosexual, cisgender women, and has excluded critical input from women of color—particularly Black women—and other oppressed communities. Black women along with SisterSong, a Black-led reproductive justice organization, created the term ‘reproductive justice’ because they recognized that the women’s rights movement and its white leadership could not speak to or adequately represent the needs of women of color and other marginalized people. Black women saw the need to build their own movement to uplift and center the needs of the most marginalized women, families, and communities.

Because of this history, our board members acknowledged it was important for Lilith Fund, which was founded by mostly white women, to shift from being a white-majority organization to a people of color-majority organization to better serve our clients, 84% of whom are people of color. White board members of our organization have understood we are not best-suited to develop solutions to serve people of color because we don’t experience the oppression people of color face. Since 2014, we have maintained a woman of color majority on our board to better guide our work through the movement of reproductive justice.

As white people, if we want health care—including abortion—and other quality services like housing, child care, education and more to be available and accessible for everyone to thrive, then we cannot be complicit in other white people’s racism. We need intersectional movements to dismantle systems of oppression, which means ensuring they are led by women of color—we cannot change policies that harm people’s ability to access healthcare by dismissing the very people who are affected by it. We will not eradicate racism if we do not listen to people of color who face it every single day. It’s up to us as anti-racist white people to listen to people of color, validate and accept their experiences, center their leadership and voices, and use the resources and privileges we have to work in solidarity. It is the responsibility of white people to support those most impacted by oppressive policies, particularly because those policies have been endorsed by predominantly white voters.

Take the time to have the tough and uncomfortable conversations with friends and family, challenge your own behaviors and beliefs, and create more inclusive spaces for all people. We are always finding ways to learn and grow individually and as an organization to help create a society in which everyone has the means and opportunity to plan their futures with dignity and support. We can always do better, and we have to do it together.

We cannot allow ourselves to be frozen by fear, shame, or guilt. We must be courageous and be willing to push past the discomfort to a place of justice. Every single day we have the power to continue living out our nation’s legacy of exclusion, violence, and hatred. But we also have the power to change our story, to create communities where all people are able to live freely and with the dignity, respect, and humanity with which they are born.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the years, and who has helped us grow, change, and be better to serve our clients. We urge you to join us in our efforts to eradicate white supremacy to make a society that is safer and better for everyone. The time to show up is now.

In solidarity,

White board members of Lilith Fund

The SB 8 Ban on D&E Abortions Ignores Best Practices, Patient Preferences

This guest post was written by Monica K, a Lilith Fund volunteer and longtime supporter

Today, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the omnibus, anti-abortion Senate Bill 8 into law. SB 8 bans physicians from performing D&E abortions, short for dilation and extraction, as well as criminalizes anyone who knowingly helps a person access a D&E abortion.This potentially includes everyone from a physician who provides abortion care to the friend who gives a patient a ride to their appointment. SB 8 also prohibits patients from donating tissue after an abortion and requires clinics to bury or cremate the remains, increasing the cost of the procedure and violating patients’ rights.

When given a choice, most women seeking second or third trimester abortions choose the D&E procedure. It’s a safe and effective method and the preferred choice of physicians. Over 95 percent of second and third trimester abortions performed in the United States are done with D&E. The Guttmacher Institute suggests that the widespread use of the procedure is why anti-choice groups specifically advocate against it.

An alternative to D&E is an induction abortion. While safe for most patients, studies have show this form of abortion has a higher risk of complications in comparison to D&E. Induction usually takes place in a hospital instead of a clinic and can require patients to stay overnight. In contrast, most D&E patients can go home the same day as the procedure.

The decision of the Texas legislature to ban D&E is especially egregious in light of the state’s maternal death rate–a figure that nearly doubled between 2010 and 2014. Instead of supporting women’s health, Texas has weakened it further by taking away the preferred choice of patients and doctors for ending a second and third trimester pregnancy.

As a volunteer at the Lilith Fund, I talk with people across Texas who want an abortion but can’t afford it. Some of the biggest barriers to abortion for our callers are the additional costs like finding someone to watch their kids, paying for gas and lodging, and the pay cut from needing to take several days off from work. For those seeking second and third trimester abortions, having to undergo a potentially more involved and time-consuming procedure could put abortion completely out of reach. Many Lilith Fund clients are also worried about revealing their abortion to family, friends and the community. The restrictions mandated by SB 8 keep abortion–and important discussions surrounding abortion care–in the shadows.

We all remember the devastating impact of House Bill 2, a similar omnibus anti-abortion access bill from 2013. It’s essential that we advocate to overturn SB 8, just as we did for HB 2, which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last year. It will undoubtedly be a long and prolonged fight.

In the face of SB 8 it’s vital that we all continue to support Lilith Fund’s clients, the health care providers who care for them, our sister funds and organizations that provide rides, lodging and other practical support. Safe and accessible abortion care for all Texans depends on it.

Guest Post: “Why I’m Bowling for Lilith Fund” by Izabella Guerrero

Meet Izabella Guerrero! She’s participating in Lilith Fund’s Bowl-a-Thon in Houston!

Here’s why she’s bowling for Lilith Fund:

“Lack of abortion access does NOT prevent abortion, it only creates dangerous solutions for termination of a pregnancy. I bowl for Lilith Fund every year because I believe abortion is a fundamental right that should be available AND affordable to anyone, no matter sexuality, gender, socioeconomic class, religion, etc.”

Image by Izabella Guerrero

Want to support Izabella? Donate $15, $25, $50, or anything you can give to her Bowl-a-Thon page today! 

Resistance during the #Txlege

Yesterday, we joined our friends at TEA Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, along with other grassroots activists, to protest the passage of Senate Bill 20. This bill would ban private insurance plans from covering abortions in Texas. We coordinated a banner drop to disrupt the vote and promote an end to all bans on abortion coverage. While the bill passed with a vote of 21 to 10, we were proud to participate in this act of resistance at the Texas Legislature.

Earlier this month, Lilith Fund and TEA Fund held our first-ever Texas Abortion Funds Advocacy Day at the Texas Capitol on March 7th! We were joined by abortion fund advocates from West Fund, Fund Texas Choice, Jane’s Due Process, Bridge Collective, Clinic Access Support Network, Stigma Relief Fund, and other community members. Together, more than 45 abortion access advocates from across the state met with more than 35 legislators to talk about abortion and reproductive justice!

During the legislative visits, we unveiled our proactive advocacy agenda. We crafted this agenda based on the stories we hear from clients every day. Our agenda includes comprehensive abortion coverage, Medicaid expansion, protections for undocumented people, young people, low-income communities, incarcerated people seeking abortion, and more. Sign on today to show your support of the agenda!   

We’re taking these acts of resistance during one of the most hostile and vehemently anti-choice political climates in our history. How do you resist? Will you join us?

We’re only able to resist and advocate for reproductive justice in Texas because of your continued financial support. Right now we’re in the midst of our annual Bowl-a-Thon, our biggest fundraiser of the year, and we have a goal of raising $100,000 for abortion access! We depend on the success of Bowl-a-Thon so that we can support people who need abortion but cannot afford it.

You can help by donating to a Lilith Fund bowler today, or if you want to get more involved please sign up to bowl! We hope you will join us in our efforts to fund abortion and advocate on behalf of reproductive justice in Texas.

Lilith Fund Testimony Against SB 20 – ACA Abortion Coverage Ban

Good afternoon.  My name is Amanda Williams and I am the executive director of the Lilith Fund, an organization that provides direct financial assistance to people in the southern half of Texas who need an abortion but cannot afford it.

I am here today to speak in opposition to Senate Bill 20. At the Lilith Fund we run a hotline open three days a week dedicated to helping people pay for their abortion procedures. On that hotline, we hear from people struggling to make ends meet needs, the majority of who are parenting, who often face a number of barriers to basic forms of health care, including abortion care. We see firsthand how bans on abortion coverage directly harm low-income people, people of color, immigrants, and young people.

SB 20 is part of an agenda that seeks to shame and punish people seeking abortion in the name of scoring political points, yet we at Lilith Fund know that restrictions on abortion coverage can have a real, dire impact on people’s health and safety by pushing access to safe abortion care completely out of reach.

At Lilith Fund, we remember Rosie Jimenez, a young mother from McAllen, who died from a self-administered abortion when she was not able to use her Medicaid insurance to cover it. The truth is that insurance coverage ensures that a person seeking an abortion will be able to see a licensed, quality health care provider and receive safe care, and that should be a Texas value.

Lilith Fund exists to help our callers escape Rosie’s fate, and many people who call our fund face other unjust restrictions on abortion coverage like the ones SB 20 would create. As such, we already know the devastating impact SB 20 would have on our communities and how this policy would expand the harm to a greater number of people. Whether a person has private or government-funded health insurance, everyone should have coverage for a full range of pregnancy-related care, including abortion.

However we feel about abortion, lawmakers shouldn’t be allowed to deny a patient’s health coverage just because of how they are insured, and people participating in the health care exchange shouldn’t have inferior health care services than people with other private insurance plans, including abortion care.

Lawmakers should be focusing their efforts on making sure families can thrive, rather than placing restrictions on private health insurance companies who want to cover a full spectrum of care. I urge this committee to oppose SB 20. Thank you.

 

Lilith Fund’s Testimony Against Texas Anti-Choice Bills: SB 8, SB 258, and SB 415

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.  

Thank you for your time.

Lilith Fund’s Testimony on SB 4, In Solidarity with Immigrant Families

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

We resolve to resist in 2017

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.  

Will you give $25, $50, $100 or more today to help us continue our work in 2017?

Lilith Fund is participating in SisterSong’s #RJResolutions campaign to choose resolutions that reaffirm our fierce commitment to creating a Texas where all people have the resources and support needed to make their reproductive decisions a reality, and challenge us to be courageous partners in this work with our community.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

 

With love,

Lilith Fund Board & Staff

Our Impact in 2016

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.

 

This success would not have been possible without your support. Help us continue our work by making your end-of-year gift today.

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! 

 

 

Apply to Join our 2017 Board of Directors!

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 info@lilithfund.org before midnight on December 19, 2016.

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