In 2013 Wendy Davis was doing her filibuster on HB2 (the law that closed all abortion clinics across the state of Texas). Students from the URGE chapter at UTEP wanted to do something about it, but it was frustrating to be so far away from the capital where all events happen during the week. Their URGE chapter leader encouraged them to do something more concrete that would create an impact. The idea of an abortion fund came up, after much planning and researching they joined the National Network of Abortion Funds. They are now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
A first trimester abortion, up to the first ten weeks, is around 550 dollars. After that, the cost begins to escalate, the average cost the West Fund sees is 1,700 dollars. Insurance almost never covers it, and after fourteen to fifteen weeks people have to drive outside of the city to get access to an abortion. It's common for people to say that you should do it before six weeks, but in reality most women do not find out they are pregnant until later.
The current political climate has not changed anything for them because they are used to always being in the defensive. There are already many existing policies that already restrict women's access to abortion. Having access to abortion gives women a sense of empowerment because they are able to make decisions in their life that will not be controlled by their reproductive system. The main focus is to push against these restrictions to give more women access to abortion.
The West Fund have gone from having yard sales to help funding over 50,00 dollars worth of abortions. They have a couple of annual events that they do, one of them is actually happening this month. It's called the bowl-a-thon (now a game-a-thon). This consists of people creating fundraising teams in March, and they reach out to all their friends asking for donations. At the end of April they have a big party to celebrate. Their goal for this year is 10,000 dollars.
Every August the West Fund organizes the taco or beer challenge. Here, you either eat a taco and/or drink a beer and take a selfie and donate to your local abortion fund. This is a big social media campaign, and the West Fund has a little event where they have tacos for everyone and people help with donations. They also have many little events throughout the year that you can attend.
There are lots of ways to get involved with the West Fund. They always need help taking calls from people around the city, as well as outside the city, when they look for help. You can help them fundraise year round as well as helping with the organization of events. The West Fund also receives help with writing, they need people to share their stories with anything involving reproductive rights. They are currently offering paid internships for the summer and the fall (you can apply by going to their website!) Anything that anyone can contribute is always very welcome at the West Fund, and they are happy to work with you.
How you can make a small change today:
- help destigmatize the word abortion
-donate (even the smallest amount helps!) to your local abortion fund
-VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! (don't forget about your local elections)
If you need help you can find their funding process and their hotline in their website! Don't be afraid to contact them!
You can find them at www.westfund.org