My Abortion Saved My Life. However the Supreme Court Rules, Help Is There | Opinion

Seven years ago this week, I was pregnant. At the same time, thousands of Texans flooded the State Capitol to oppose an abortion law that would eventually lead to the loss of more than half our state's clinics and later be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Now, just four years after that decision, we're waiting for another Supreme Court ruling, on June Medical Services v. Russo, a case centered on an identical law out of Louisiana.

In 2013, I had an abortion in Austin, Texas. With close to no money in my pocket, I was able to pay for my abortion because of an abortion fund, a nonprofit organization that provided direct financial assistance and helped me get the care I needed. I had my abortion just before Texas politicians pushed through House Bill 2, which decimated abortion access in the state. I can't bring myself to think about what my life would be like right now if I hadn't been able to access that care and was forced to continue that pregnancy. My abortion saved my life.

For decades, abortion funds in Texas and across the country have been lifelines for people seeking abortion care, providing financial assistance and help navigating a web of restrictions imposed by extremist lawmakers. They exist to help people in need pay for abortion care, while also advocating for greater access and engaging the communities they serve.

Over the past year, anti-abortion extremists have led a campaign across the state of Texas to persuade a dozen towns to enact unconstitutional ordinances banning abortion in their communities. These ordinances also label the abortion fund I work for, the Texas Equal Access Fund, as well as the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity and the Afiya Center, as "criminal." They accuse us of causing harm, when in reality we are saving lives. And for that, we sued.

Thanks to nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent, local municipalities cannot ban abortion. While these anti-abortion ordinances that span from Waskom to Big Spring have no teeth, they are part of a web of confusion that the anti-abortion movement creates and maintains. It is a cruel tactic designed to further stigmatize abortion and to harm those most impacted by barriers to access. At abortion funds, it is not uncommon to hear questions from our callers about the legality of abortion.

Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court building is seen on June 25 in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on abortion rights soon. Michael A. McCoy/Getty

Due to restrictive state laws, and despite abortion being legal everywhere in the United States, many people have virtually no access to abortion in Texas. The state imposes myriad hurdles for those seeking abortions in the state. One must wait at least 24 hours after an ultrasound to have an abortion, be subjected to lies and propaganda through state-mandated counseling requirements, listen to the "fetal heartbeat" and pay out of pocket for the procedure since Texas restricts Medicaid and insurance coverage of abortion. These barriers hit low-income communities, communities of color and young people the hardest.

On top of all of this, Governor Greg Abbott used the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse in March to ban abortion in the state and left people scrambling for care. Texas abortion funds have been on the frontlines, helping our clients deal with the blowback, misinformation and critical lack of access to abortion during this difficult time.

From helping people pay for their procedures to providing transportation to get to their appointment, abortion funds in Texas and across the country serve as a critical resource for their communities. Abortion funds were there for me when I needed them, and we'll continue to be there for years to come, no matter how the Supreme Court rules in the next few days, so everyone can access essential, life-saving health care without political interference.

Nikiya Natale is an attorney and the incoming advocacy and outreach director with Texas Equal Access Fund. She is also an abortion storyteller with We Testify. Nikiya is based in Dallas, Texas.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.