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The story of Buckle Bunnies: How one group funded abortions in Texas after Roe v. Wade fell

Makayla Montoya Frazier is the founder and executive director of the Buckle Bunnies Fund — a mutual aid abortion services provider.
Bri Kirkham
Makayla Montoya Frazier is the founder and executive director of the Buckle Bunnies Fund — a mutual aid abortion services provider.

One year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade — placing the responsibility on states to make decisions about abortion. Almost immediately, nearly every abortion fund in Texas shut down, fearing civil and criminal jeopardy.

Makayla Montoya Frazier, the leader of one Texas abortion fund, remembered how she felt reading a leaked draft of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization abortion opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court last May. She wasn’t surprised, but it was a punch to the gut.

“We knew how it was going to go. I think we had fully kind of prepared ourselves for that. And then when it got leaked ... seeing that like your first thing is just, 'I gotta get drunk,' ” she said.

Montoya Frazier is the co-executive director and founder of Buckle Bunnies Fund (BBF), which she founded in response to Texas COVID-19 restrictions on “non essential procedures,” which included abortions.

But last year, BBF and other abortion funds faced even greater obstacles.

In addition to the devastating Supreme Court decision, Attorney General Ken Paxton released an advisory stating that multiple pre-Roe laws were now in immediate effect — laws that held prison sentences of two to five years for anyone convicted of “furnish[ing] the means for” an abortion.

For Montoya Frazier, that wasn’t a total surprise either.

“I don’t think any of them were really surprising because we just knew it’s doom and gloom for probably the next five years — at least — about abortion in Texas,” she said. “I was just like, f***, that’s really scary. But that’s its intention: to be scary. They’re not going to enforce that.”

People chant at a abortion rights rally in San Antonio on Sept. 1, 2021.
Jia Chen
People chant at a abortion rights rally in San Antonio on Sept. 1, 2021.

Large non-profit abortion funds weren’t convinced the laws could be enforced either, but felt vulnerable. They didn’t want their staffs to take the risks, so they paused operations instead.

But not BBF. That’s mainly because it’s not a non-profit. It follows the mutual aid model — a loose collection of individuals who lack the formal structure and hierarchy typical of nonprofits and tend to serve the communities they live in.

So legally, Montoya Frazier said, it would have been difficult to stop BBF from doing its work.

“Since we’re also not an incorporated organization and we’re just individuals, they’d have to pick one of us to come after and not all of us,” she said. “And the work would probably continue.”

Montoya Frazier said in the first weeks after the other funds shut down, BBF began to receive nearly 70 requests for assistance per day.

“For almost 10 months it was just us,” she said. “So, that is definitely the value in not having a nonprofit status.”

BBF had an initial goal of raising $3,000 when it was founded in 2020. But that number had ballooned to $2 million raised and distributed by February 2023.

TPR spoke with one of BBF’s clients who received some of those funds this past January. TPR did not disclose the client's name because of the sensitive nature of abortion care.

At the time of the January abortion, the client already had a child under a year old and had struggled after birth.

“Postpartum was not very kind to me,” they said. “So I don’t want to go through [pregnancy] again until I want to.”

They said they were also concerned for their physical well being.

“I was just scared for my body cause I [had] only been postpartum six [months] at the time,” they said. “So the only concern for me was what state my body would be in because I could not access [abortion care] through doctors or through anybody else besides Buckle Bunnies Fund.”

Their financial situation was another reason they didn’t feel they were ready for a second child.

So with Montoya Frazier’s guidance, the client used a common medication abortion regimen. They said it took several days to recover.

Abortion Rally photo.jpg
Dallas Williams
An abortion rally in Texas.

“My body was in immense pain. I remember being in so much pain, I just took more Tylenol from my bedside table and went back to sleep,” the client said. “After that was just bleeding for three days straight.”

Montoya Frazier said people came to BBF because she and her staff were able to build trust — despite the pain and fear that can often be associated with abortion.

“I think we came from it from a very, ‘everyone else we serve is the same as us,’ we were very open with our identities and our stories,” she said. “So I think that was a huge thing that made people realize we were genuine.”

BBF is all volunteer. The organization has no office, which means it has no overhead costs. Therefore, every cent it receives goes to flights, hotels, child care, out-of-state abortions, and other types of assistance clients may need. For 10 months, Montoya Frazier said, they were the only fund in Texas fulfilling those needs.

But today, the other abortion funds are back in Texas, nearly one year after they left.

A federal judge’s February injunction dismissed the notion that pre-Roe statutes were in effect or that organizations could be held legally liable for funding abortions.

Montoya Frazier said the decision came at the right time. BBF’s rotating volunteer staff of fewer than 10 people was exhausted and the organization’s funds were running out. She said BBF was still actively working and fundraising, but they’re hoping to catch their breaths.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but we would like to rest because a lot of organizations were able to fundraise, fundraise, fundraise, for the past 10 months, but they weren’t having to spend it on abortions,” she said. “So now I’m just like, alright, pay up.”

There are plenty of Texans, though, who are thankful Montoya Frazier and BBF picked up the tab when they did.

“I feel pretty great knowing that I’m not five months pregnant,” the client said. “I’m glad I do my daily activities of taking care of my baby — to my fullest — and being able to crawl around on the floor with him, play with him as much as I can, put him into his crib.”

To learn more about abortion funds in the U.S., go to abortionfunds.org.

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