ARGYLE, Texas – Two days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a 27-year-old woman gave birth to her fourth child, a boy, whom she named Cason. Born after his mother fled domestic abuse and was denied an abortion, he was one of many post-Roe babies expected in Texas.
“I love my kids and I feel like a really good mother,” said Cason’s mother, who requested to be identified by her first name, T. “But due to this pregnancy, I cannot provide for them.”
One in 10 people of childbearing age in the United States lives in Texas, which will soon, along with half of all states, ban abortion almost out of law. Texas’ conservative leadership has spent decades narrowing access to abortion while cutting social spending and state-funded health care. Now, even some anti-abortionists say their condition is dire to be unprepared for the possibility of procreation in poor women.
Roe’s flip “creates a sense of urgency that now, hopefully creates resources. But unfortunately, there is still that gap,” said Aubrey Schlackman, founder of Blue Haven Ranch, an anti-abortion nonprofit that provides housing and other support to the T. family.
“We want to limit abortions,” Ms. Schlackman continued. “But we personally aren’t ready for cash flow yet, and I know a lot of the other nonprofits we work with that aren’t ready for that either.”
Texas is one of the most dangerous states in the nation when it comes to childbirth. The state’s maternal mortality rate is one of the worst in the country, with Black women accounting for a disproportionate share of deaths. State infant mortality rate, at more than five deaths per thousand births in 2020leads to nearly 2,000 infant deaths annually.
Texas has chosen does not extend Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which helped lead to hospital closures and the formation of rural healthcare “deserts,” where obstetricians are scarce and care remains scarce. before birth. More than a quarter of women of childbearing age are uninsured, the highest rate in the country. Medicaid covers low-income women during pregnancy and for two months after giving birth, compared with 12 months in most states.
A proposal in the Texas House of Representatives to extend postpartum coverage to 12 months was cut by the State Senate to six months. Tens of thousands of children are born to low-income parents languishing on the waiting list for child care benefits.
Last September Texas passed Senate Bill 8, which prohibits abortion for patients with detectable fetal cardiac activity, usually starting at about six weeks. Recently Time analysis showed that the abortion rate in Texas dropped only 10% after the bill was passed, as more and more women went out of state or ordered drug abortions in the mail. But poor patients often lack those options.
From comments: The End of Roe v. Wade
Comments by Times Opinion writers and journalists on the Supreme Court’s decision to end the constitutional right to abortion.
“Assuming just 10 percent of women can’t get an abortion, that’s an increase in numbers,” says Elizabeth Sepper, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies religious freedom, health law and equality. great increase in fertility.
“It is impossible for any organization to be prepared to meet that need.”
3 years ago, T. was an accountant for a chain of fitness centers. At $36 an hour, it was the highest paying job she’d ever taken. She is proud to be the breadwinner of the family after her partner, with whom she has been with her since high school, lost her construction job during the pandemic. But during her early pregnancy with Cason, she developed complications that forced her to quit her job.
The family saved money, moving into smaller and smaller homes until late last year, when they finally had to move in with her partner’s mother. The couple were unloading their belongings, with their infant daughter in her stroller nearby, when “he grabbed me,” T. said. Her partner choked her until she lost consciousness, she said. When revived by a stranger, she had difficulty speaking, and a ring of bruises around her neck. Fearful for her children, she fled the next morning to a shelter for domestic violence victims, she said.
She said she had never sought an abortion before. But the prospect of raising four children alone, giving birth alone made T. despair. She agonized over the needs of her three children, and about the sacrifice. “If I do this, I will make sure they are always good, always taken care of,” she recalls her thoughts.
“It was a very difficult decision, but I feel it was a smart decision for me.”
Her sister drove her to Southwest Women’s Surgery Center, an abortion provider in Dallas. But Texas just passed Senate Bill 8, and providers told T. she’s about 7 weeks pregnant – far too far from abortion in Texas. Can she travel to New Mexico? In the waiting room, T. sobbed. The trip is impossible. She had no money, and so few childcare options, that she brought her young daughter to the appointment. She doesn’t know about medical abortion.
T. and his sister were waiting in the parking lot. She was sitting in her car, distraught when an anti-abortion “sidewalk consultant” approached.
“‘You’re not alone. If you’re pregnant and you need help, we can help,'” the sidewalk counselor told her, T. recalls.
“I just started crying,” said T., “with a sense of relief.”
The next day, the woman T. met in the parking lot directed her to Birth Choice, an anti-abortion support center located in the same office block as the abortion provider.
Some centers against pregnancy crisis has been carefully monitored for women seeking abortion care that are misleading or misinformed. But in that moment, “They asked me the perfect questions,” said T. of the Childbirth Choice counselor. “I agree? Are my kids okay? What did I need?”
“Mind you, I dropped everything,” she said. “They provide me with everything right there: baby bags, diapers, formula, clothes for me. They even gave me some little clothes for my daughter and a toy,” said T..
“Then my counselor came back and said, ‘I found you a place.'”
The location is Blue Haven Ranch, based in Argyle, about 45 minutes from Dallas.
Blue Haven provides housing, help with family bills, job training and financial counseling, and other services for up to a year or more postpartum to pregnant women with existing children . Among Americans seeking abortion care, 60% are mothers and half have two or more children. Most are in their late 20s and poor.
Ms. Schlackman, 34, a former dental hygienist, Protestant and mother of two, founded Blue Haven in 2020.
She grew up believing that women seek abortion care for the sake of convenience. “Now I can understand why they chose it,” she said.
Ms. Schlackman asked women to attend religiously strong group information sessions in a community church on Monday night. Blue Haven is not seeking money from the government or anyone else who might question its religious approach. Ms. Schlackman said, reading a letter from someone, who sent $50, needed to receive donations from abortion rights advocates as well as opponents: “‘I don’t share the belief. your opinion on abortion and Christianity, but I hope you will use your power to encourage similar initiatives elsewhere. ‘”
Blue Haven supports five families, and has 12 families on the waiting list. It costs about $2,500 per family per month for housing and utilities, plus gas and unexpected household expenses. A financier in Boston who read about Blue Haven and offered help recently in negotiating a deal to buy a used car for a mother with a poor credit score.
Currently there is no livestock farm; families live in rented apartments. Ms. Schlackman and her husband Bryan plan to buy a large plot of land outside Denton, Tex., and build a complex with cottages, a meeting house and communal kitchen, plus open space and livestock. for “farm therapy”.
Standing in the wheat fields, where she envisions the homes that will stand, Schlackman estimates that she will need to raise $13 million for land, construction, and operations over three years. After Roe was debunked, Blue Haven received $25,000 in donations over two days.
The biblical focus and emphasis on Christian family ideals upset some Blue Haven mothers. But for T., the team offered a lifeline at a time when there were not many options left. One recent Monday night, she attended a meeting while her children played on the church’s pristine playground, supervised by grandparents. Other volunteers organize a joint dinner.
Blue Haven threw the shower to T., and its supporters bought everything on a registry that Ms. Schlackman created. (T. chose the theme of zoo animals for her cubs, in blue and green tones.) When Cason was born, Ms. Schlackman was there, taking care of T. at the birthing center. spalike, where she gave birth to her own son.
Blue Haven’s support will end about a year after Cason’s first birthday.
“The pressure is really great,” T. said on a Thursday, four days after she gave birth to Cason. “I have a year to rebuild my life while my body heals, and take care of four children at the same time. It’s so scrary. I try not to think about what happens when I leave the show. I know I can be a great mom, just, can I provide for my kids, keep them healthy and safe and have a roof over our heads, and food? “
She said she hopes to get another job as an accountant and eventually move into her own home.
She said she has a message for the Texas Legislature.
“You don’t know what’s best for any family, you didn’t protect me and my children. I protect my children. Only a mother knows what is best for herself and her family. And if you’re going to force women to have all these babies they’re not equipped to have, then you need to support women and their children after the babies are born. “
At the beginning of the week, just a day and a half after giving birth, T. had something to say.
“Women, all we really have is our dignity and our voice,” she said. “And you’re taking them away.”
Erin Schaff contributed reporting from Argyle, and Margot Sanger-Katz from Washington.