“Rosie’s Law” Would Expand Abortion Care Access for Low-Income Texans

Named for a Rosaura “Rosie” Jimenez, who died seeking an abortion in the Rio Grande Valley due to the Hyde Amendment, the bill (HB 895) would provide abortion coverage for low income Texas families enrolled in Medicaid.

AUSTIN —“Rosie’s Law,” (House Bill 895) authored by Rep. Sheryl Cole, D-Austin, is the first bill of its kind that would expand insurance coverage for abortion for Texans enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program. The bill is part of an historic initiative led by Texas-based abortion funds, who provide financial assistance to thousands of Texans seeking abortion and are committed to removing the barriers low-income Texans face when seeking care.

For more than 40 years, low-income people in Texas and across the country have been denied affordable abortion care due to the Hyde Amendment, a federal policy that prohibits the Medicaid program from covering abortion. Currently, 34 states and D.C. deny people coverage for abortion just because they are poor.

Texas lawmakers banned Medicaid coverage for abortion decades ago, and a ban on private insurance coverage of abortion was passed during the 2017 Texas legislative session. Coverage bans of all kinds force low-income Texans to pay out of pocket for their abortion care and primarily affect low-income communities of color.

“Rosie’s Law” would ensure affordable abortion care for millions of Texans enrolled in Medicaid, and mirrors efforts in states across the country, including Oregon and Pennsylvania, to protect and expand abortion coverage.

Statement from Rep. Sheryl Cole:

“I am proud to file HB 895, known as Rosie’s Law. I will fight for justice, including reproductive justice, and I believe that everyone deserves access to healthcare.”

Statement from Frontera Fund Co Founder & Board Chair Rockie Gonzalez:

“Rosie’s Law honors the life of Rosaura “Rosie” Jimenez of Mcallen, TX. and her children who survive her. Families in the Rio Grande Valley experience unfair barriers to accessing the abortion care they want and need. Our work is based on the moral fiber that tells us wealth should not be a factor in anyone’s ability to make decisions about their bodies, their lives, or their families. Frontera Fund works to offer financial assistance and practical support to our Valley families and so should the state of Texas.”

Statement from Lilith Fund Executive Director Amanda B. Williams:

“We work everyday to remove the unnecessary barriers that prevent people from accessing safe abortion care in Texas communities. Rosie’s Law would remove one of the biggest barriers to abortion care in our state by ensuring that the reproductive rights of low-income Texans are respected—however much money they have.”

Statement from Texas Equal Access Fund Executive Director Kamyon Conner:

“Rosie’s Law would expand coverage of abortion by reducing superfluous restrictions to healthcare for low-income people. Equitable access to health care and abortion is essential regardless of income or race.”

Statement from Destiny Lopez, co-director, All* Above All:

“Rosie’s Law is bold legislation that will leave decisions about whether to end a pregnancy where they belong– with Texans and their families.  As we continue to fight injustice in all its forms, we must ensure that politicians aren’t able to take away someone’s health coverage just because they’re poor.”

Rosie’s Law would have a positive impact on the lives of people seeking abortion care in Texas. More information on Rosie Jimenez and her life is available online.

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Frontera Fund provides practical support and funding for abortion to people seeking abortions in the Rio Grande Valley and to people living in the Rio Grande Valley who have to travel to other clinics in Texas and out of state.

Lilith Fund funds abortion in central and southern regions of Texas and advocates for change through the movement for reproductive justice.

Texas Equal Access Fund provides funding to low-income people in the northern region of Texas who are seeking abortion and cannot afford it, while simultaneously working to end barriers to abortion access through community education and shifting the current culture toward reproductive justice.

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Thank you to our supporters

Thank you for standing for Texans’ reproductive rights last night. In case you haven’t heard the news, Senate Bill 5, the harmful omnibus abortion bill, failed to pass.

This was an important night for reproductive rights in Texas. We appreciate everyone who joined us in orange at the Capitol, posted on social media or followed along.

Thank you, too, to our donors. Since the start of Senator Wendy Davis’s history-making filibuster at 11:18 a.m. yesterday, your generosity has stunned us. Contributions poured in from 98 donors from around the world – nine of you signed up as new sustaining monthly donors.

We are so glad you value the Lilith Fund’s work to remove barriers to reproductive access. Thank you for partnering with us and standing with Texas women and anyone who needs a safe, legal abortion in our state.


Help us fight Texas’s omnibus anti-abortion bill

This afternoon, the Texas Senate will hold a hearing on a single omnibus bill that regulates abortion procedures and facilities to the point that only five clinics will exist in our state. We urge our followers and supporters to come out to the hearing at 3:45 in the Senate Chamber (floor 2 of the Texas Capitol, east wing). The hearing will likely last late into the evening, so although earlier is better, you can stop by at any time.


Lilith Fund’s statement on the Texas omnibus anti-abortion bill

The provisions of this bill are extreme. A majority of Texans will not agree with this bill and will not support its passage. Only 15 percent of Texans are completely against abortion. In comparison, 81% of Texans, as recently as February 2013, said abortion should be legal in some or all cases. Even Texans who would never choose an abortion for themselves or their family understand that access to abortion is important – and would characterize this bill as extreme and hurtful.

Women who have an abortion do not do so lightly. No woman gets pregnant so she can have an abortion. Sometimes families end up needing to terminate a pregnancy when they never thought they would.

Abortion doesn’t just happen. When abortion occurs, it is part of a woman’s health history across her entire lifespan. During her lifetime, she may go through parenthood, abortion, adoption, miscarriage, stillbirth or any other experience on the spectrum of reproduction. In fact, 61% of women who obtain abortions in the United States are already mothers, so when we talk about abortion we have to talk about families’ values and their plans and goals for themselves.

Most American families want two children. To achieve this, the average woman spends about five years of her life trying to get pregnant, actually pregnant, or immediately postpartum. But on average an American woman spends three quarters of the time she’s fertile and able to reproduce – about thirty years – trying to avoid unintended pregnancy.

Despite families’ best efforts, half of all pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended. This means – if unintended pregnancy keeps happening at current rates, more than half of American women will have an unintended pregnancy by age 45.

In Texas, 53% of all pregnancies were unintended in 2006. That was 309,000 pregnancies. Of all births in Texas in 2006, 45% – nearly half – resulted from unintended pregnancies. Unintended pregnancy has devastating economic consequences for our state. In 2006, the state government spent $507 million paying for births that resulted from unintended pregnancy.

And in 2008, family planning centers helped prevent 98,700 unintended pregnancies – saving the federal and state government $348.2 million in Medicaid costs for pregnancy care and newborn care. The state’s economic burden continues long after birth – unintended pregnancy costs the state, from increased crime and welfare participation to reduced high-school completion and labor force participation.

This omnibus abortion bill is also likely to be challenged in the courts, causing an enormous waste of valuable tax dollars and state resources. We have seen this in other states. North Dakota has already set aside $400,000 in taxpayer funds to defend legal challenges to the state’s unconstitutional abortion ban. It should be noted that North Dakota courts have already temporarily blocked the anti-abortion legislation. And this spring Kansas enacted legislation that effectively banned abortion in the state. The Kansas Attorney General’s Office spent over $1 million over the past two years to defend senseless, wasteful, and shameful anti-abortion legislation. Are Texas legislators and taxpayers prepared to spend the hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, required to defend this legislation?

It is not just unintended pregnancies that end in abortion. Because of unforeseen circumstances, women also choose to terminate planned and very much wanted pregnancies. Regardless of her circumstances, when a woman is pregnant, she needs to have abortion as an option. Being denied abortion causes negative health and well-being outcomes for women, children and families.

Women who want an abortion but are ultimately unable to access it suffer negative consequences. Women denied abortion are three times as likely to end up below the federal poverty line two years later. Babies born out of unintended pregnancies are less likely to have good prenatal care and less likely to be breastfed – both of which lead to less successful outcomes throughout the child’s life. Marriages and cohabitation relationships are more likely to dissolve after an unintended first birth than after an intended first birth.

No matter what a woman’s circumstances are, politicians should not interfere with a her ability to make her own healthcare decisions. The decision to terminate a pregnancy is private and the state does not need to be involved in it.

This omnibus bill has extreme consequences. Because of its extremism, a majority of Texans will not support it. The bill will close all but 5 clinics in Texas. These clinics are located in Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. There will be no abortion providers west of I-35 in Texas.

Under this bill, the abortion pill, which is safe and rarely results in complications, will require a before and an after appointment with a doctor. Remember, there are only four cities where clinics will stay open, so women will be taking two long round trips. For example, a woman from the Rio Grande Valley will travel 1,000 miles – it’s 250 miles from Harlingen to San Antonio.

Moreover, since the pills used in a medication abortion can be purchased without prescription in Mexican pharmacies, Texas women will likely cross the border to buy the abortion pill and then self-induce an abortion at home. This will be much more affordable for them, even if it is less safe.

Under the omnibus anti-abortion bill, a doctor will be required to administer abortion medication. It is sufficient for a nurse practitioner to do this – and it can even be done via telemedicine; physician administration is unnecessary.

Additionally, for both surgical abortions and the abortion pill, doctors will face extreme regulation designed to put them out of business.

Lastly, under this bill, abortion after 20 weeks will be illegal. The bill states that women have adequate time to decide whether to have an abortion in the first 20 weeks – but that’s simply not true in every case.

The bottom line is this: this bill will make abortion harder to obtain and more expensive. As a result, we will see an increase in back-alley abortions, self-abortions, deaths among women seeking abortion, and unintended pregnancy carried to term – all of which directly create negative public health outcomes and a huge financial drain on the state of Texas. This is not what any of us want for our state, and for our women, children and families.

Seeking Spanish-speaking hotline volunteers

Did you know? As long as the Lilith Fund has been around, we have run a Spanish-language hotline for abortion patients who need help paying for their procedure.  And we are always looking for friendly and compassionate volunteers to help return our clients’ calls.

The Spanish-language hotline receives a lower volume of calls than the English-language hotline, about 4-6 calls per week.  Volunteers on the Spanish-language hotline are responsible for:

  • returning the approximately 4-6 weekly phone calls
  • talking callers through their funding options
  • providing referrals to other resources in the community when needed
  • granting funding vouchers to qualifying callers 

And don’t worry, we train you on all of this!  To help, all you need is a phone, internet access, and about 4 hours of free time during any given week.  Download our Spanish Language Hotline Volunteer job description here to see if this volunteer position is right for you.

Volunteer training is offered on a quarterly basis.  The next group training will be held on June 1, 2013 from noon to 4 p.m. in central Austin – further details will be announced to accepted applicants

To be accepted for training, please fill out our hotline volunteer application and email the completed form to [email protected].

Guest Post: Top Tips for Shaking People Down for the Cause

Andrea Greer is one of our top Houston fundraisers and blogs at nonsequiteuse. She wrote a helpful list to help bowlers reach, and exceed their goals.  She allowed us to cross-post this from her blog.

Thanks to the internet, we’re all fundraisers now. How can you stand out and make sure you bring in the big bucks?

Sisterhood Bowls Well

Here are some of the things I kept in mind while I rolled past my fundraising goal for this year’s Lilith Fund Bowl-a-Thon:

1. Give the first gift.
If you don’t believe in what you are doing enough to put your own cash on the line, why should anyone else? Not everyone likes to go first, and people are more likely to give once the pump has been primed, so put your money down at the start.

2. It’s about joy.
If you’re doing this for a cause, you are offering people the chance to invest in something they will enjoy supporting. They might believe in the cause and take joy in advancing it. They might believe in YOU, take joy in supporting you, and care nothing about the cause. Remember, you aren’t forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do. You’re creating an opportunity for them to feel great about taking part in something larger than themselves. Don’t be shy about creating opportunities for joy!

3. Ask early and often.
If you are using passive measures, like Facebook and Twitter posts, make sure you post often enough, and early enough, that people who check in at different times of day or on different days will see your messages. (If you wait until the last minute,  signal to people that you’re only going to be blanketing the airwaves only for the next 48 hours. Tell them you’ll stop posting and pinging once you hit your goal.)

4. Make’m say no to your face.
It is easy to ignore someone’s Facebook status. You can throw away a letter that comes in the mail. It is harder, however, to say no to someone when they call you on the phone to ask for help. And it is really hard to say no to someone’s face. If you are striking out in your passive asks and mass appeals, try asking people one on one. It may be hard, but you believe in what you are doing, right?

5. Don’t take no personally.
Well, I guess you can take it personally if someone says they would have given except for the fact that it is you asking. But otherwise, remember, it isn’t about you. The timing may not be right, or the cause may not be one that interests the person. Some highly organized people have a budget and stick to it, so they can’t accommodate your request.

6. Offer incentives IF you can do so without creating havoc.
Heed the example of Kickstarter—don’t offer an incentive that will cost you more (in time or money) to fulfill than you can handle.

7. You don’t need to offer incentives.
Don’t think that people are really going to give because of your incentive. Think about it. If you really needed a coffee mug or tote bag, you’d buy one. You wouldn’t wait for the public radio pledge drive. Sure, 1 time in 100, someone is giving for the incentive, and it can be a nice touch, but people give because they care about you and they care about the cause.

8. Say thank you.
As I type that, I am terrified that I did not acknowledge all of the donors to my most recent fundraising project. A quick thank you via email, a shout-out on Twitter, whatever form it takes, get on it. It makes the person feel appreciated, and it reminds other people that they, too, could give.

9. Make it easy for people to give.
Create a short-link to your fundraising page. Print some cards with your name & pitch & short-link that you can hand out to people when you talk to them about it. Have the page book-marked on your iPad so someone can give right then & there while you’re talking about it. Don’t make people hunt for the details.

10. Offer other ways to help.
If someone tells you they’d like to donate, but can’t, ask if they might post a link on their Facebook page, or RT you, or hand out your cards. Who knows who they know that you don’t?

Coming Out

Coming out as an Abortion Fundraiser
by Lilith Fund board member Sarah

Supporting the idea of abortion access is one thing. But asking friends to write a check to fund abortion? That feels like a pretty big step. As if talking about abortion wasn’t already one of the top three socially awkward topics of all time – now you want to talk about money?  Asking for money from friends is hard even with the most adorable causes (Puppies! DOESN’T EVERYONE LOVE PUPPIES?! Send Money!) But abortion… well that is a whole other cup of tea.  As one of my close friends said “I’m *fine* with the idea of abortion…but I’m really not comfortable writing a check…”

Here are the steps I use to raise money, not go crazy, and not alienate *too* many people (and if this alienates them, it probably wasn’t meant to be….)

1) Get your brave on.  Usually I start with my core group of progressive loonies.  You know who you are. The ones who leap out of their seats to help. They might not have ever heard about an abortion fund before, but they’ll always hit the picket line with you.  They might only be able to give $5, but they’ll give. This step builds a bit of your confidence, and lets you find your money-raising sea legs. Write a note from your heart – Why is it that you’re raising money for the Lilith Fund? Is it because you think that everyone deserves the right to make choices about their bodies? Maybe you or a close friend had an experience you want to share. Or maybe because you’re sick and tired of the slut-shaming.

2) You’ve raised some money! It is intoxicating! Take that momentum and go to town. Feeling super brave? Post on facebook or twitter. (I call this a filtering post. This is where all those far right acquaintances from elementary school unfriend me. :D Whoops.) Write a quick paragraph about why you’re bowling for abortion. If a public post seems too terrifying, target a slightly larger circle from your core group.  Old friends from college, people who you *suspect* might be supportive and probably won’t actively yell at you. Make the circle a little bigger than is comfortable and give people a chance to surprise you. They will. It is astounding.  One of my biggest donors this year was an old acquaintance from graduate school who I never would have targeted. He saw my facebook page, and gave. Those surprises are the best.

3) Here comes the hard part. Follow up. I KNOW. Isn’t that horrifying? Not only have you asked for money? YOU SHOULD ASK AGAIN. You know those endless emails you get from whatever group you signed a petition for that one time? You know why they send them? Because it works. Even if only one or two people follow up. You might have just caught someone sitting with their wallet open for something else. Or they meant to give the first time, but the baby cried and they got distracted. Give everyone another chance.

4) Celebrate your awesomeness.  Remember that every dollar you raise makes a big difference for the Lilith Fund, and for our clients. Do a little dance. You did great

5) Say thank you. You know your friends, so figure out how and when you want to thank them. Write a note, drop them an email, throw a party.  Let them know how fantastic it feels to support a good cause.

Thanks to all of you for raising money. Thanks to your hard work we’ve raised even more money than last year – money that goes directly to helping clients on our hotline every week.