A 20-year-old student at the University of Texas at Austin has started a nonprofit organization to skirt a new state law that bans abortion after 20 weeks and requires abortion doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges within 30 miles of the abortion facility.
The student is Lenzi Sheible, reports The Texas Tribune. Her nonprofit is called Fund Texas Women.
Notably, Sheible is seven months pregnant.
The new law, House Bill 2, went into effect Nov. 1.
In response to the law, Fund Texas Women pays travel expenses for women – and minor girls – to get to the abortion clinics which still exist in The Lone Star State. For women who have decided to get abortions after they are 20 weeks pregnant, the nonprofit pays to ship them to other states, including New Mexico and Colorado.
Fund Texas Women operates a volunteer-staffed hotline for pregnant women seeking financial assistance.
Since its founding on Nov. 8, the organization has spent approximately $10,000 to send 35 women on abortion vacations. The group pays for airfare, bus tickets, hotel accommodations and various other expenses.
Fund Texas Women works with other pro-abortion groups such as the National Abortion Federation and the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity to subsidize abortions. However, Sheible’s new nonprofit is essential for arranging transportation logistics.
“For people who don’t believe in abortion, what we do seems excessive,” Sheible told the Tribune. “What we do seems like we are intentionally trying to get around the legislative barriers that exist, which we are.”
Anti-abortion groups don’t like Fund Texas Women — especially the part about funding transportation for minors.
“We are troubled that this organization may be encouraging doctors to perform abortions on minors without parental consent,” said Joe Pojman, executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life, in a statement to the Tribune.
Sheible swears that her organization works with parents whenever minors are involved, but also communicates directly with the minor seeking the abortion.
“I can’t walk around and do this job without keeping in mind that every person’s body has its own right,” the abortion advocate told the Tribune, “and for me, being pregnant is a choice.”
She also says she isn’t fazed by criticism from abortion foes.
“I think they’re mostly mad because it’s working,” she told the Tribune.
Sheible, who will graduate in May (coincidentally when her baby is due) and then attend the University of Texas School of Law, says she plans to continue her nonprofit work
She described the abortion situation in Texas as “a totally different world” in the wake of House Bill 2. A dozen abortion clinics – a third of the total number in the state – have been forced to fold.
Abortion services are no longer available across much of the state, including the areas of Fort Worth, McAllen and Waco, according to Planned Parenthood.
Beginning in September, further restrictions will require abortion clinics to meet regulations identical to the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. Right now, just six Texas abortion clinics meet such standards.