Four Austin City Councilmembers are taking action to ensure low-income residents can access abortion care.
On Monday, Councilmembers Leslie Pool, Delia Garza, Gregorio Casar, and Paige Ellis announced a budget amendment that would allocate up to $150,000 in funding to logistical support services for abortion.
Advocates say the amendment is the first of its kind in the United States.
The amendment is the result of organizing efforts led by reproductive justice organizations in Texas, including the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity and NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, who seek to push reproductive rights and justice policy items in cities across the state.
If passed, the budget amendment could help support the costs of travel, childcare, emotional care, and other services Austin residents might need while seeking abortion care. The funds would be issued through the Austin Public Health department as part of a competitive and open bidding process.
City Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem Garza said the budget amendment is a way “to address institutionally driven differences in the quality of life among Austin residents. Access to health care, including abortion, is an equity issue.” Garza added that assisting residents with logistical services around abortion care is just another way to meet the community’s needs. “We already help Austin residents with transportation or child care in other situations.”
The effort comes as anti-abortion hostility ramps up nationwide, but especially across the South and Midwest.
Since January, anti-abortion legislators with help from conservative, anti-abortion organizations have launched an assault on reproductive rights, introducing nearly 400 anti-abortion measures in states across the country.
Some state legislatures have attempted to get “heartbeat bills” on the books, banning abortion once a heartbeat is detected. Some have introduced gestational age bans, banning the procedure anywhere from six weeks to 20 weeks gestation. But the frequency of anti-choice bills and abortion bans introduced this year has been shocking, advocates say.
Amanda Williams, the executive director of the Lilith Fund, an Austin-based abortion fund, told Fortune the barriers to accessing abortion care are discriminatory, as low-income residents, women of color, immigrants, and people with disabilities face the most restrictions.
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