Whole Woman’s Health: No Alternative for Austin Women. What now?

In the 1970s, Travis County’s Central Health board created a program to extend the freedom of choice that Roe V. Wade granted women and families, to all women and families. Together, they decided to set aside a portion of the counties health care budget to assist women in need of an abortion, who could otherwise not afford it. Time after time of challenges against this facet of the health board’s budget have left some of the serving members unpopular among the anti-choice population. Texas anti-choicers were finally able to legally intimidate the Travis County health board into slashing this special medical assistance for women from the budget.

Today, September 12th 2011, is the first day in over 20 years that impoverished women and families of Travis County don’t have a choice between having a child and having an abortion.

These were the Travis County women on Medicaid, who absolutely could not raise $375, much less the $25 co-pay that the MAP program allowed them. These were the single moms making minimum wage. These were the mentally handicapped, or drug addicted women trying to put their lives back together from scratch. They were also people who simply didn’t have the financial support of a family, or a decent enough job to pay for the procedure – which is becoming more and more prevalent. These were some of the last people in the community that Travis County and the state of Texas should have turned their backs on. But they did. And they offered no alternative in its place.

It’s left a lot of us at the clinic asking “What now?” How do you tell a woman that simply isn’t ready to have a child that she essentially has to?

Whole Woman’s Health staff have decided that we’d rather ask ourselves at the clinic ‘What now?’ than to have to tell these women ‘no’ and make them ask that of themselves.

On their own time, a few of our outstanding staff members have organized a new abortion fund for these women, in preparation for this loss of funding. Their new Stigma Relief Fund may not be able to assist the number of women that the state of Texas and Travis County is turning their backs on, but with our pro-choice communities help, and the help from statewide and national abortion funds already in place, we can try.

Abortion may not be accessible to all women in Travis county anymore, but our staff have proven that we won’t be the ones to say “No” to these women, without a fight.

To learn more about, or to donate to the Stigma Relief Fund, please visit their new website. Help the Stigma Relief Fund give back some of the freedom that Austin women and families lost today: http://stigmarelieffund.wordpress.com/donate/

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