Two Years In: SB 8 & the Post-Roe Nightmare in Texas

Almost a year before SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade, Texans learned what it would mean to live under a cruel abortion ban. On September 1, 2021, Texas Senate Bill 8 (SB 8) went into effect, banning all abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy in Texas. But even before SB 8 was enacted, accessing abortion was already extremely difficult in our state. Restrictive laws forced clinics to close, placed additional burdens on minors and undocumented people, and prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Because of these draconian barriers to abortion access, Fund Texas Choice (FTC) has been helping people travel to access abortion care since our founding in 2013. The passage of SB 8 absolutely devastated FTC staff who knew firsthand how difficult abortion access already was for so many Texans. Here’s a testimonial from one of our team members who was helping to support Texans at that time:

Over a yellow pink, and purple gradient background, a text box reads, '“On September 1st, it’s like everything exploded. Virtually overnight, we started getting as many as 60 voicemails a day. Our callers were confused and felt desperate. They didn’t understand why they suddenly had to leave the state for abortions. We had several callers that week who thought they’d be able to get their abortions in Texas, even with the 6 week ban in effect. But when they went back to the clinic, their ultrasounds detected cardiac activity and they had to pivot to an out of state appointment. People would call us afraid that their friend or family member would get sued by some mysterious person. There was definitely a feeling of fear and paranoia amongst most of our callers.”'

The enactment of SB 8 made Texas the first state to effectively ban abortion since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. While SB 8 violated what was then our constitutional right to have an abortion, the text of the law was also drafted in a way to purposely create uncertainty, and because the makeup of the Supreme Court had shifted to an anti-abortion majority,  the law was allowed to go into effect. Texans needing an abortion were left confused, scared, and without access to care. Here’s a testimonial from one of our clients around the time SB 8 was enacted:

Over a yellow pink, and purple gradient background, a text box reads, ‘"I found out [I was pregnant] around week 7 and by then, I couldn't legally abort in my own state. After 10 plus years of practicing safe sex...this all felt unfortunate and heavy. [I] had never been pregnant or even had a scare, and now I was forced to financially front almost $1,000 for a procedure and emotionally and physically [in a] situation that felt completely isolating."’

Before SB 8, FTC received an average of 45 requests for support per month, and abortion seekers had to travel an average of 809 miles to obtain an abortion. In the two years since SB 8 went into effect, FTC has received an average of 206 requests per month, and abortion seekers have to travel an average of 1,154 miles for their abortion. 

The size of Texas, along with the banning of abortion access in neighboring states, has led to a 450% increase in the amount of people needing support to access abortion care and a 70% increase in the distance people have to travel for an abortion.

In the last two years, our clients have traveled over 1.4 MILLION miles to access abortion care–enough to circle the globe over 56 times. Texans have been living in a post-Roe society twice as long as any other state, meaning that for two years, Texans needing abortions have had to leave their homes, families, and communities and face the physical and logistical barriers of travel to access abortion care. 

Banning abortion has left Texans in a health care crisis. Abortion is completely inaccessible to many marginalized groups across the state, including minors, people with disabilities, people who can’t travel due to immigration status or criminal history, and people in state custody. In just the first 9 months after SB 8 went into effect, 10,000 people were forced to give birth, and people experiencing medical emergencies have had to travel or go into septic shock in order to access care. 

Our mission of funding practical support for Texas abortion seekers is more important now than ever before. Practical support and abortion funds have become an essential part of Texans’ health care network, and because no one should have to travel for basic medical care, we aren’t going anywhere! Helping Texans travel out of state for their abortions will always be an act of love and will continue to bring us joy in times of crisis!



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