As of midnight on Wednesday, September 1st 2021, Texas Senate Bill 8 (SB8) became law, restricting abortion care after just six weeks of pregnancy, when many people still don’t know they are pregnant. The law also sets a dangerous precedent by effectively transforming private citizens into bounty hunters who can legally enforce this law on the government’s behalf. Under S.B.8, anyone can sue abortion providers or any individual who “aids and abets” an abortion, including a friend who drives you to a clinic.
As you’ve probably all heard, this crushing blow to abortion access comes after months of the NWHN and our allies imploring the Supreme Court to step in and stop this pernicious law - only to be met with a deafening and callous silence. People in Texas are now subjected to the most extreme abortion ban in the country.
Think about that.
And Texas is in the US, an ostensibly developed and prosperous nation that stands for freedom.
To be clear, this means a trusted sister or best friend who waits outside the clinic is at risk of breaking the law.
This means the nurse, or social worker, or crisis counselor who gave out a list of referrals is in S.B.8’s crosshairs.
This means organizations supporting pregnant people seeking abortions in Texas are about to be crippled with frivolous lawsuits, stretching already strained budgets even thinner.
And it now means that thousands of Texans who need abortions will be forced to travel hours out of state to get the healthcare they need – many of whom cannot afford this undue burden.
We’ve gotten emails from many of you over the past couple of days, asking what happens next, and what we’re doing about all of this. The NWHN has been following the lead of the people on the ground in Texas who are directly affected. We are working around the clock to meet their needs in any way we can.
What We’ve Done to Expand Abortion Access Since S.B. 8 Went into Effect
1. SO FAR, IN TEXAS: We helped the Raising Women’s Voices collective mobilize their supporters and directly assisted two abortion “aiding and abetting” organizations in Texas in record time. Founded in 2007, Raising Women’s Voices (RWV) is a national initiative working to make sure women’s concerns are addressed as policymakers put healthcare law into action. It is coordinated by the Black Women’s Health Imperative, the National Women’s Health Network and the Women's Health Program of Community Catalyst and currently has 25 regional coordinators in 27 states - including Texas. This week, the NWHN helped prepare a written call to action to support two of these coordinators – the Lesbian Health Initiative in Houston and the Afiya Center in North Texas, which works on issues of reproductive justice.
2. Yesterday evening, the NWHN joined a strategizing group of nearly 500 coalition members who are working to coordinate a national response to this unprecedented threat to Roe v. Wade. The National Women’s Health Network is a formidable and savvy force to be reckoned with on the Hill – and we’re savvy enough to know that we’ll get farther when we stand strong with our allies. On yesterday’s call, we put our heads together with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and MANY others to begin coordinating a collective response to this madness. Stay tuned for updates.
3. We’ve been working hard to expand the reach, influence, and resources of Plan C, a campaign dedicated to helping women access the abortion pill. Founded in 2015, Plan C is a formidable team of veteran public health advocates, researchers, and social justice activists under the fiscal sponsorship of the National Women’s Health Network. The campaign works towards universal access to abortion pills and the normalization of self-managed, safe, at-home abortion care.
On the very day S.B.8 went into effect, the NWHN was able to help restore Plan C’s ability to run ads across social media after lengthy administrative negotiations with the platforms, thus exponentially increasing their reach and ability to efficiently solicit donations.
How You Can Help
1. Mobilize your network to help get the Women’s Health Protection Act passed. WHPA is federal legislation that will protect the right to access abortion care in Texas and throughout the United States. It works toward a future where all of us are free to make the personal decisions that shape our lives, our futures, and our families, without political interference. Send an email in seconds to your representative urging its passage here, and post this link across your social media channels to get your friends to do the same.
2. Support dozens of organizations fighting for abortion access, including several on the ground in Texas, by making a donation to the National Women’s Health Network. When you donate to the National Women’s Health Network, you’re not just giving money to one group. Rather, you’re supporting a thriving network of progressive, evidence-based, consumer-focused healthcare access groups who can respond with lightning speed anywhere in the nation to threats like S. B. 8, as we’ve been doing for the past three days.
Maximize your impact.