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Abortion funds resume covering out-of-state costs for Texas women

(CBSNewsTexas) - Texans seeking an abortion in a state where the procedure is legal can once again get help from nonprofit groups to cover the travel costs. 

There's a near-total ban on the procedure in Texas, and most abortion clinics in the state shut their doors months ago. 

"All of the previous obstacles that we've always encountered to get access to care are still there," said Andrea Ferrigno, corporate vice president for Whole Woman's Health, which closed all its Texas clinics about nine months ago. "And now they're maximized because of the increased cost, just by leaving the state and having to travel somewhere else." 

Statewide abortion funds stopped providing financial assistance for abortions and travel to out-of-state clinics after Roe v. Wade was overturned because of confusion and concern about which state laws were enforceable and if their work could be penalized. 

"Without that additional support, it has been very difficult for patients to keep their appointments," Ferrigno said. 

In late February, a federal judge ruled local prosecutors can't go after people or groups who help Texans travel to other states where it is legal to have an abortion. 

That decision opened the door for the Texas Equal Access Fund, the Lilith Fund, and Fund Texas Choice to start operating again. 

"Without open abortion clinics in our state, abortion funds are the network of support that will ensure Texans access abortion care out of state that they desperately need. Clinics have been the target of anti-abortion laws and legislation and now anti-abortion extremists will focus on attacking abortion funds, the only safety net Texans have in seeking abortion care," said Kamyon Conner, executive director of Texas Equal Access Fund, in a statement. "We need community support now more than ever so that as many Texans who need care can get it. We hope that folks will show their support for our helpline reopening to provide care for Texans seeking abortion care in legal states." 

Data from the Guttmacher Institute estimates the average Texan must drive at least 515 miles one-way to reach the nearest clinic that performs abortions before 15 weeks.

Whole Woman's Health recently opened a new clinic in New Mexico, the only state Texas borders with laws protecting the ability to get and provide an abortion. 

Whole Woman's Health will close down Texas locations, announces plan to open in New Mexico 02:29

The vast majority of their patients come from Texas. 

"It makes a big difference for our patients to count on the financial support that the local Texas organizations, funding organizations, offer," said Ferrigno. 

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