HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Groups that support reproductive rights in Texas had a head start in navigating restrictions on abortion. Last fall, the heartbeat bill made the procedure illegal after six weeks. That's before many people are aware they're pregnant.
These groups are already in high gear. They've been collecting resources, organizing, and educating the community about options for pregnant people. However, just because they have a blueprint for how to do that doesn't mean it's going to be easy in a post-Roe America.
Desireé Luckey is URGE's director of policy. She said, "What we're having now is people having to make the best of bad circumstances."
For many pregnant people in Texas, over the last nine months, that's meant forced birth, traveling out of state for abortion care, or self-managing the procedure with pills. URGE helps connect patients with resources, but Luckey said things were already tight before Friday's opinion overturning Roe.
"Abortion funds and practical support funds are stretched really thin to be able to accommodate all the needs of people. We're only going to see that worsen as states around us continue to restrict access to abortion care," she said.
Governor Greg Abbott released a statement Friday supporting the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion. Part of it pointed to what he's done to help pregnant people in need.
Abbott said he'd extended Medicaid healthcare coverage to six months post-partum, appropriated $345 million for women's health programs, and invested more than $100 million toward the Alternatives to Abortion program.
However, a nonpartisan group called Commonwealth Fund finds states with the most restrictive abortion laws, including Texas, to show the weakest maternal and child health outcomes. They're also least likely to invest in at-risk populations.
"We really need to be able to bolster the funding for those organizations that are working on more holistic care for people and not doing it in a way that shamed or feared them into not having an abortion, but actually cares for them as a whole person," said Luckey.
She received abortion care two weeks before SB-8 severely restricted the procedure in Texas in September 2021. She said it was still a difficult process, and pregnant people deserve better.
She believes the attention on abortion right now will help her group's cause to ultimately guarantee the right and make it stronger than it was before. "I think this is a really great opportunity for organizations like ours to come in and help people develop the education and civic engagement to be a part of the process and the change."