Pregnant student Lenzi Sheible has created a travel fund for women in Texas who want abortions in a move to counteract the state’s tough new anti-abortion laws.
The Republican state legislature last year passed regulations that banned abortions after 20 weeks of gestation and also mandated that doctors who perform abortions must have hospital-admitting privileges within 30 miles of an abortion facility.
The result has been that a dozen abortion clinics have been forced to shut, which was one third of those operating in the Lone Star State, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Now 19-year-old Sheible has founded Fund Texas Women
, a nonprofit organization that pays travel expenses to aide women in Texas to have abortions either inside the state or in nearby states.
The new laws have meant that women seeking abortions, whether they are under or over the 20-week limit, sometimes must travel hundreds of miles to the nearest facility.
The fund, which has a volunteer-run hotline, has spent $10,000 helping 35 women so far to have the procedure, including paying for trips to New Mexico and Colorado in cases where the women had passed the 20-week restriction, the Chronicle reported.
"For people who don't believe in abortion, what we do seems excessive," said Sheible, who is seven months pregnant. "What we do seems like we are intentionally trying to get around the legislative barriers that exist, which we are."
But the pro-life group Texas Alliance for Life has slammed Fund Texas Women for not considering "compassionate alternatives to abortion."
The group's executive director Joe Pojman said, "We are troubled that this organization may be encouraging doctors to perform abortions on minors without parental consent, which would be in violation of Texas' long-standing parental consent law."
But Sheible, still a teenager herself, insisted that her organization will not help pay for travel expenses if there’s “any hesitation” by the young women.
"I think they're mostly mad because it's working," she said of the right-to-life activists.
Sheible added that her own pregnancy has actually emboldened her to help women who are facing obstacles from state legislation in getting abortions.
"I can't walk around and do this job without keeping in mind that every person's body has its own right, and for me, being pregnant is a choice."
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