If you haven’t heard, Stop Patriarchy is coming to Texas for an Abortion Freedom Ride, and a lot of Texans aren’t too happy about it.
While clinics in Texas close and abortion funds struggle to meet the needs of Texans across the state, Stop Patriarchy is using this devastation to raise tens of thousands of dollars – not to help people who need abortions, but rather to pay for their own airfare.
Despite highly detailed criticisms of the plan from those working on the ground to increase access to reproductive justice in Texas, Stop Patriarchy is continuing with their plans to come down to Texas and stage protests across the state, and continuing to get positive press coverage from out-of-state news sources that fail to ask Texans working in the reproductive justice movement what they think.
Though there are plenty of reasons to be frustrated with Stop Patriarchy, one of the most important complaints is that of fundraising transparency.
The group started an Indie Go Go campaign to fund the action and raised over $30,000. So where is that money going and what could it be better spent on to help actual Texans?
It isn’t that Texan activists reject the support of those who don’t live in the Lone Star State. Many activists and organizations have suggestions of how those concerned with the plight of reproductive justice in Texas can help. The issue here is a complete disconnect between what the money could be doing to help expand access in Texas and what Stop Patriarchy is actually using it for.
On their Indie Go Go page, the group explains their $25,000 ask:
Think: airfare, van rentals, gas, housing and living expenses. Think: thousands of leaflets, palm-cards, stickers, banners, etc. It will help with the cost of national webcasts to project the message of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride throughout society in real time.
But it doesn’t stop there. Stop Patriarchy goes on to explain that fundraising will continue throughout their Freedom Ride, “to cover the rest of the costs, including to help produce a high quality film so that the impact of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride can be felt far beyond the summer.”
That’s right, they are raising tens of thousands of dollars to fly people into the state, house them, feed them, make flyers, and then make a movie.
They aren’t raising money to directly help people who need funds right now to get abortions in Texas. These people can’t wait for a film – they need financial help now.
In their defense, this is clearly what Stop Patriarchy thinks they can do to best support abortion access in Texas. To help better guide their fundraising efforts, I reached out to a few people working on the ground in reproductive justice to give the folks at Stop Patriarchy a few other ideas.
The Lilith Fund is an abortion fund that operates in central Texas. Their entire purpose is to raise money and then distribute it to those who call their hotline in need of financial assistance as they attempt to procure abortion services. As clinics close and abortion becomes harder to access, funds like this one will be even more necessary in preserving any semblance of choice. When asked how out-of-state reproductive rights activists could best support their work, board member Lindsay Rodriguez said,
“The Lilith Fund welcomes and receives support from people and organizations all around the country who are troubled by the barriers to reproductive access that have a disproportionate effect on Texans without economic means. We also recognize that many systems of oppression intersect to hold those Texans back from getting abortions. More than anything, we need financial support to help those who need abortions right now to get the care they need.The need in Texas is so great that even with the generosity of our donors, we’re able to fund less than half of the callers to our hotline, and the financial need is going up. While we volunteer many hours advocating and educating about the importance of abortion access, donations to our Fund help keep abortion accessible for people who need it today.”
Lenzi Sheible, from Fund Texas Women, also had great advice for those who don’t live in Texas but who want to lend a hand. Like the Lilith Fund, Fund Texas Women is involved in the day-to-day needs of those attempting to access abortion services. In the aftermath of House Bill 2, travel and accommodation costs associated with getting an abortion have skyrocketed. Fund Texas Women helps people cover those costs, along with providing practical advice for navigating reproductive justice in the state. For those who live outside of our borders, Sheible had this advice:
“People from out of state can most directly impact abortion access in Texas by fundraising for us. One of the difficulties of organizing in a red state is that it’s harder to find sources of income to finance reproductive justice. But organizations like Fund Texas Women need to be able to provide direct services long after Stop Patriarchy’s bus tour is over. People in other states have access to networks that we just don’t have here in Texas, and utilizing those resources would make all the difference.”
According to their own explanation for their fundraising goals, Stop Patriarchy is using the $32,000 they have raised to pay for travel and housing for those coming into Texas to protest lack of abortion access.
Imagine what $32,000 could mean for Texans trying desperately to access abortion services if it were donated directly to organizations like Fund Texas Women or The Lilith Fund.
Donating the money raised off of highlighting the issues faced in Texas to organizations that help directly connect people with abortion services would impact the state in ways that would far outlast any recognition of the protests and actions accompanying Stop Patriarchy’s freedom ride, but that does not seem to be what they are truly invested in.
If Stop Patriarchy truly wanted to help Texans, they would donate their $32,000 to organizations that are providing abortion care in Texas — not use it on their own self-promotion.
Once the Abortion Freedom Ride is over and all of the activists have gone, organizations like Fund Texas Women and the Lilith Fund will be left to wonder what those funds could have done if they were donated directly to abortion access in the state. And, in the end, they will continue doing what they have always done. As Heather Busby from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas explained, “Texans have been on the ground fighting long before this group decided to come to our state and once they leave, we will still be here doing the work.”