New Texas abortion law spurs nonprofit development and court appeal

Mar 13, 2014

Lenzi Sheible founded Fund Texas Women, a non-profit organization that pays for women's travel costs associated with obtaining an abortion.
Credit Lenzi Sheible/Todd Wiseman / The Texas Tribune

Last year, Texas lawmakers passed House Bill 2, which made abortion rules even more stringent.  The procedure was banned after 20 weeks of gestation and physicians performing abortions were required to have hospital admitting privilege within 30 miles of an abortion facility.  Those changes reduced access to abortions across the state according to The Texas Tribune.

The admitting privileges rule was effective in November.  That cut the number of abortion providers by one third.

Lenzi Sheible is a 20 year old student at the University of Texas at Austin.  She made trips to protest the bill multiple times.  When the measures were approved, she founded, Fund Texas Women, a nonprofit organization to pay travel expenses to help Texas women get abortions both in and out of the state.

“I fought, and I got caught up in the spirit of fighting, but I realized that while everyone was interested in fighting HB 2 so that it didn’t pass, not a lot of people were prepared to accept the fact that it would,” said Sheible, who is seven months pregnant. “And that once it did it would be a totally different world in Texas.”

The Texas Alliance for Life criticized Fund Texas Women saying the organization doesn’t encourage women to consider “compassionate alternative to abortion.  They also question the group’s efforts involving minors.

"We are troubled that this organization may be encouraging doctors to perform abortions on minors without parental consent, which would be in violation Texas’ long-standing parental consent law,” the group's executive director, Joe Pojman, said in a written statement.

Fund Texas Women provides funding for minors seeking abortions.  They also work with parents who call the hotline seeking financial assistance for travel for their daughters.  Sheible says her organization always speaks to the young women directly to make sure it’s what they want.

“If there’s any hesitation on her end, we won’t do it,” she said.

The new law also requires doctors to follow a specific, federally approved protocol for abortions using drugs instead of a routinely used method.  KUT News reported that following the FDA protocol being appealed.  The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is deciding whether the requirement is constitutional.