This at the bottom but in case you don’t make it all the way there, the point of this post is…
I am asking today, if you have just $5 that you can spare, please consider donating to Lilith Fund. I am participating in their annual bowl-a-thon fundraising effort and would appreciate your donation. But I don’t really care if you donate through me, someone else, directly through the website, whatever. Please donate if you can.
The local abortion fund here in Austin is called the Lilith Fund. They help fund abortions for low-income people who cannot afford the entire cost of an abortion (which normally runs from $430 and up).
Last year, they gave out the most money ever: $78,000. And yet they were only able to help 25% of the people who called. They had to tell 75% of the people who called in crisis, looking for help, that they couldn’t help them because there simply wasn’t enough money.
And this all comes on the heels of MAJOR funding cuts by the state of Texas to reproductive health care.
With one action, the Texas Legislature sought to forbid Central Health from funding elective abortions for about 1,000 low-income women in Travis County. With another, it cut an estimated $2 million in family planning money to prevent unwanted pregnancies for thousands more Travis women.
Although health officials said they feared far more drastic cuts in health and human services, that part of the budget still sustained the biggest losses in the state’s $172 billion two-year budget that kicks in Sept. 1 — $11.3 billion of the $15 billion in reduced spending.
In addition to a nearly two-thirds decline in money for family planning services over the biennium — mainly for birth control pills and annual exams that include cancer screenings, but not abortions — organizations in Travis County said they will have much less state money to aid mentally ill adults, fragile people trying to live at home and new doctors seeking training in primary care, a field facing shortages nationwide.
The Legislature also left dangling until 2013 a $4.8 billion shortfall expected in Medicaid costs, so future payment cuts are feared.
Targeting Planned Parenthood, the Republican supermajority in the Texas House reduced family planning money. Although that money cannot be used for elective abortions, and family planning services are offered not only by Planned Parenthood but also by providers including Central Health’s clinics and People’s Community Clinic, the Legislature ultimately cut the funding by about $70 million, affecting an estimated 284,000 low-income Texas women. The Legislative Budget Board reported that the reduction could lead to 20,500 additional births.
The MAP helps provide health care for families who fall below 200% of the Federal Poverty Index Guidelines. Specifically this program has provided reproductive health care to many women, including coverage for well woman exams, pap smears, birth control, and abortion for Austinites and Travis County residents. It fills the gap between folks who qualify for federal Medicaid and folks who cannot afford the cost of private health insurance.
Throughout the years, women in Austin and Travis County have relied on this program to obtain a safe and legal abortion for a $25 co-pay. Travis County and Austin recognize that low-income women needed this service to be accessible, and have made it so for a number of years.
This legislative session, Rick Perry, and the Republicans sought to end that avenue of access for Austin women. A bill was passed and signed into law (as a rider to the State Budget) which prevents Travis County MAP from receiving state funds if they continue to fund abortion services. Austin and Travis County have the only health care program that provides health care coverage for abortion in the state. Clearly, the Republicans put a target on the backs of low-income Austin women.
The Lilith Fund, which covers Texas, south from Waco and including Austin, saw a HUGE increase in people from the Austin area needing assistance with abortion after MAP was no longer able to provide subsidies for abortion care.
Additionally, things like TRAP laws, which demand strict, unnecessary regulations on abortion clinics ramp up the cost of abortions.
Then, of course, most famously, Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott recently created a rule that said that the Medicaid-funded Women’s Health Program, which provides reproductive health to low-income people in the state of Texas, would no longer provide money to Planned Parenthood through the WHP. The Obama administration, which had already dealt with this conservative go-around when Indiana tried it, said no. If the federal government is giving federal dollars to fund the state Medicaid program, the state cannot deny that provider the money if a patient wants to go there. Texas said: FINE. We will simply turn down the MILLIONS of federal medicaid dollars in preventative and regular reproductive health care (which does NOT in any way include abortion), effectively defunding the WHP. As the Austin Chronicle puts it:
In 2010, according to HHSC, the Women’s Health Program enrolled more than 183,000 Texas women; 106,711 actually received services that year. In 2011, the number of women who received services increased to 115,226 (the total number enrolled last year has not yet been compiled). But the current conflict between state and federal law has put health care for these women in jeopardy. If the WHP dies, following other severe budget cuts, more than 300,000 low-income and uninsured Texas women will be left without access to basic health care this year.
Lilith Fund is going to see and feel the implications of this. The people who search out Lilith Fund for help funding the abortions they need will increase.
So, I am asking today, if you have just $5 that you can spare, please consider donating to Lilith Fund. I am participating in their annual bowl-a-thon fundraising effort and would appreciate your donation. But I don’t really care if you donate through me, someone else, directly through the website, whatever. Please donate if you can.
While $5 may not seem like a lot to you, to a person in crisis trying desperately to get the abortion they need, it can be everything.