A Q+A with the Lilith Fund
An interview with Blanca Murillio- Development Director, Lilith Fund
What is Lilith Fund?- How long have you been going?
Lilith Fund, founded in 2001, is the oldest abortion fund in Texas. We just celebrated 21 years of funding abortion and building power in Texas!
How did you get started? What moved you to get started?
Since 1976, The Hyde Amendment has prevented Medicaid from covering abortion and Texas refuses to use state funds for abortion coverage. Our founders knew that one of the most critical barriers to abortion access is cost. Abortions in Texas generally start around $500 but depending on how far along the person is, the cost can climb to over $1,000. Lilith Fund has supported callers whose procedures cost upwards of $10,000. People should not have to face financial burdens to access their right to an abortion.
How does the Lilith Fund support people in Texas? What type of programs/resources do you provide?
Lilith Fund helps central and southeast Texans access their fundamental right to an abortion by providing direct financial assistance for abortion services through the operation of a bilingual hotline. In short, if people need an abortion, they make their appointment with their clinic and then call us for help funding their abortion. If we can provide funding, we will send the financial assistance directly to the clinic. Before last fall, we could only fund 25% of our callers with an average voucher amount of about ~$350. Thanks to an overwhelming amount of support over the past few months, Lilith Fund is now covering the entire procedure cost for our clients and serving nearly every client who calls. But this also means we need more support than ever before to sustain this increased support for our callers.
If people need to talk about their abortion or need help with additional resources, we have a social work manager to help them out. We also have a client engagement program that provides leadership opportunities for past Lilith Fund callers.In addition to our hotline, Lilith Fund also engages in advocacy work. We've worked with our community to advocate for abortion access to our local and state leaders. Some of the advocacy work we've been able to accomplish includes advocating for Rosie's Law and receiving funding from the City of Austin to fund lodging and transportation for Austinites needing abortions.
How has recent legislation surrounding abortion impacted your organization?
Support for people seeking abortion access is critical, as anti-abortion politicians in Texas have been passing restrictions on abortion access for decades, putting care especially out of reach for marginalized communities. Last September, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 8 in Texas, an extreme, unconstitutional anti-abortion bill that bans abortion at 6 weeks. This is before most people know they are pregnant! This law also allows anyone (including non-Texas residents who have no connection to the person having an abortion) to use frivolous lawsuits to harass any person who assists Texans in accessing abortion care after 6 weeks—including an abortion provider, an abortion fund, or a family member or friend of the patient.
We are also preparing for the Supreme Court’s final decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health that will very likely terminate the rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade and further devastate abortion access across the country.
What does the future look like for Lilith Fund?
Lilith Fund and our abortion funding partners in Texas have been operating in a post-Roe reality for some time. We've funded abortions through hurricane crises, a pandemic abortion ban, and a winter freeze.
Since the Texas abortion ban went into effect in September, we’ve continued to fund abortions for Texans who call our hotline. We're still finalizing our plans in preparation for the fall of Roe but we plan to still fund abortions for Texans even if it means assisting them out of state. The majority of our callers are already having to travel out of state for their procedures. We are not going anywhere!
How will the donated funds impact Lilith Fund/ people in Texas?
Since the abortion ban took effect, we’ve seen a significant drop in hotline callers. While it is devastating that fewer people are seeking care because of the restrictions of the law, this has allowed us to offer increased support to our Texas callers in compliance with SB 8, as well as those accessing abortion out of state. This also means we need more support than ever before to sustain this increased support for our callers.
Community asks- what are resources you need that we can highlight to the community? Professionals to come and speak, donated items, workshop facilitations, facility donations, etc.
We are so grateful for the support we've been receiving since the abortion ban first went into effect in September. The best way donors can support us is to help us build a sustainable, predictable income by signing up to be recurring monthly donors. Recurring donations enable us to plan our programming and predict our budget.
We know not everyone has the capacity to give but are eager to spread the word about our work. If you are a supporter located in Texas, you can sign up for Hype Squad. By joining Hype Squad, members will make sure Texans can find resources and crucial information about getting an abortion through creative actions in their communities. Trainings will begin in June.
Additionally, there will be future opportunities to volunteer for the hotline. Our hotline is managed by our Hotline Program Director, our Hotline Program Assistant, and 30+ volunteers who call back clients and process their funding. Training is required and sessions will be scheduled at a future time. Volunteers can be from anywhere! If anyone is interested, they can sign up here to be notified when the next training is available.
Other ways people can help is to continue talking about abortion access with their loved ones. The only way we will be able to destigmatize our work and support the people that need it most is if we bust stigma with our friends and family.
If you or anyone you know have a business that supports our work, please let us know! Sometimes we need gift cards and prizes for our events and it can be hard to know who is willing to support us.
We are working on creating a plan to disburse abortion travel kits for people that need to go out of state for their care. If you or someone you know can help us get a consistent supply of materials, please reach out to us.
What do you want people to know about Lilith Fund?
We are a strong, passionate team of people that just want abortion to be accessible to all and we are so thankful for the outpour of love and support we've received in the past year.
Any final thoughts or subjects to cover?
We want our supporters to say abortion -- not "women's healthcare" or "reproductive care"! When you don't use the word abortion, it further stigmatizes what should be a normal medical procedure. Abortion is healthcare!