As Texas Abortion Clinics Become Scarce, a Student Steps Up to Cover Patients’ Travel Costs

Lenzi Sheible’s organization helps women reach faraway facilities by paying for transportation—from a cab ride to plane tickets.
Abortion rights activists protest outside a U.S. federal court in Austin, Texas, on Aug. 4. (Photo: Jon Herskovitz/Reuters)
Nov 29, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

To get an abortion in Texas, a woman has few options—12 clinics, to be exact.

That’s the number of abortion clinics confirmed to remain open in the second most populous state in the U.S. by Fund Texas Choice. The organization, founded by Lenzi Sheible, a law student at the University of Texas, helps patients seeking abortions reach those facilities. It also helps cover their lodging during the state’s mandatory 24-hour waiting period.

“From Midland, it’s about a five-hour drive to any of the closest clinics,” states Fund Texas Choice’s website.

Lenzi Sheible, 20, started the organization 15 months ago, after Texas passed some of the most stringent abortion laws in the U.S., reported The New York Times. But there’s been more demand recently.

In October, new restrictions that imposed hospital-level standards shut down 13 abortion clinics across the state. According to the Guttmacher Institute, as of Nov. 1, requirements include parent consent for minors and counseling and ultrasound before procedures. Public funding is only available when cases involve rape or incest, or when a woman’s life is at risk.

So far, Fund Texas Choice has received about $60,000 in donations and has helped 106 women travel to clinics by bus, cab, and plane. The organization will hire its first paid staff member in January.

Sheible isn’t alone. Another group, the 1 in 3 Campaign, is working to end the stigma against abortion by encouraging women to tell their stories online. Celebrities such as Lena Dunham have expressed their support for organizations like Planned Parenthood.

“[These projects are] a reaction to a sense of desperation across the country as more clinics close, as more communities are left without providers,” Kimberly I. McGuire of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health told the Times.

Despite the movement, restrictions similar to Texas’ are expected after Republicans gained Senate control in the midterm election. Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, who will become the Senate majority leader, aims to ban abortions after 20 weeks across the nation.