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Government/Politics

'They're Hunting Us': Texas Abortion Mutual Aid Fund Prepares For Effects Of New Law

A room with two large shelves, stacked with boxes that read "pregnancy test," "Narcan," "condoms," and "snacks."
Makayla Montoya Frazier
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The Buckle Bunnies Fund's mission is to expand access to abortion, but that doesn't just include funding. Their abortion care kits also include snacks, self care items, sanitary napkins and more.

Planned Parenthood clinics in South Texas have stopped providing abortions after a state law took effect banning abortions after six weeks.

TPR’s Bonnie Petrie spoke with Makayla Montoya Frazier, founder of the Buckle Bunnies Fund, a group that helps fund abortions in Texas, about how this new law is impacting her work.

Bonnie Petrie: Tell me about your organization.

Makayla Montoya Frazier: We started at the beginning of COVID, when Greg Abbott decided abortion shouldn't be happening, because they were "elective procedures." We knew that wasn't true.

So we got young people together from every city in Texas, or every major city in Texas, to try to mobilize and see what we can do with the power of social media. Young people are really good at networking nowadays.

We've been doing a lot of this very heavy networking, and we provide practical support for people who are seeking abortions. And that can look like a million things help with transportation, funds to help with hotels, lodging costs and emergency contraceptive funds to actually go towards abortion. We have some social workers as our members as well. People are needing a little extra. Emotionally, we provide that where we can.

BP: How did you feel when this new law essentially eliminating abortion access in Texas went into effect this week?

MMF: I'm not gonna say I'm super surprised. It's heartbreaking, and it's devastating. But I also come from a place of immense privilege and luck, that I have the education that I do surrounding abortion. If I were to need an abortion, I would know how to go about it. But a lot of people don't have that. Texas is not huge on sexual education, and that is a giant disservice to young people. It didn't come as a giant surprise, but I still feel anger and rage. It's been a roller coaster of emotions.

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BP: And since this law basically deputizes private citizens to sue anyone who performs an abortion or “aids and abets” a procedure, it’s specifically targeting people like you and organizations like yours, right?

MMF: Yeah, they're hunting us, and they're waiting for us to make a move. Which is really dangerous. I mean, we all know that's dangerous. But historically, abortion providers have been targets of violence for decades. So it's just another step to empower people to commit the same violence. Whether that be financially hurting people and funds, an org, taking our attention away from the things that matter. I mean, and it's also really dangerous just to like, physically be around some of these people — because these people are doing this as an act of violence. Imagine being like in a courtroom with them. They wanted to instill fear in us. So I mean, I would say that they kind of did. But also, they empowered us even more, to fight back. And to just do this all to spite them directly.

BP: So... How will you do it?

MMF: We're still in the baby steps of restructuring around this right now because we don't know what's to come in the next few days and the next week. It's kind of like a day-by-day thing. And then talking to people who are reaching out to us and asking them like, what they want to do, do they have the capacity to wait? I mean, we're still going to try to assist people who need abortions in any way that we can. But, you know, we're going to try to not get in trouble at the same time, because we have limited funds. And we need to protect ourselves so that we can protect abortion seekers.

BP: Tell me about the people organizations like yours help, the people who will be most impacted by this law?

MMF: It's painful to have to humanize a thing like this, because the dignity of these people should already be fully realized. For a lot of people, they need to see that these are people that they know, and they love. We have a spectrum of people, we help so many people who are already parents. We help people who are in their late 40s and didn't know that they can even still get pregnant. People who just, like, simply don't want to have kids or have had problems with pregnancies in the past. You know, and then we've had people who are middle school high school age, and it's hard.

When you see the faces of what abortion bans do... They take the autonomy away from all of these people, a huge, wide spectrum of people, but one of the only things that they have in common is that they’re low-income.

BP: What does this law mean right now for people in Texas who are pregnant, don’t want to be, and the window has closed for now for them to get a safe, legal abortion.

MMF: We don't know yet. It's a person-by-person basis. So we kind of ask them like, how much money have you saved up? How far along are you? Are you willing to travel? Do you have the means to travel if necessary? Do you have access to getting maybe a telehealth provider for your abortion? Do you know that all these things come into play all these barriers? So it's largely up to the person needing the abortion, you know what their capabilities look like in the moment?

BP: And if this law remains in place, what does this mean for those seeking abortion care going forward?

MMF: We've seen a lot of these areas mean that people have kids that they don't want, they continue unplanned, unwanted pregnancies — just because there's no other alternative. We don't know what happens after that. In my opinion, that's a tragedy. It's a lot to balance and to try to figure out right now, barriers have always messed with people. This is just the strongest barrier that we've come into, been faced with in a while. And we're going to have casualties. It's going to be disastrous and dangerous for people in Texas.