Saturday, April 13

Some want ban as law, others seek havens

This story is the result of a collaboration between the Austin American-Statesman and USA TODAY for the purpose of producing the first episode in the new series “States of America.”  The last names of the women seeking abortions were not used at their request because of the personal nature of their choices. The full episode of “States of America” exploring the abortion landscape in Texas will premiere at 9 p.m. EDT July 9 on the USA TODAY NETWORK’s streaming channel. For a full list of platforms offering our FREE streaming channel, follow the link here.

DALLAS — The sky was still dark when the women began to gather at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas.

They arrived one by one and were shepherded from the parking lot to a meeting area inside the church by volunteers from the congregation, each of whom had spent days preparing for this moment.

“I’m here to help you,” said one volunteer, offering her hand to a woman getting out of a car. “I’ve been in your shoes before.”

It was early, just after 5 a.m. The streets were deserted, save for the few cars headed toward the church.

Whether it was the early hour or anticipation for the journey ahead, the women were quiet as they waited for the rest of their travel companions to arrive. Some nervously bounced their knees under a table while others rested their heads on their arms, avoiding eye contact with the circling volunteers who offered snacks and cups of juice.

When the group boarded a bus bound for the airport, there were 15 travelers, plus a mother accompanying her daughter.

Besides the familial pair, none of the women who gathered at the church knew any of the others. They were different ages and ethnicities, with varied personal backgrounds and professional histories. Some were college students, while others owned businesses or were newly unemployed. Several were parents, with young children and teenagers at home. Many of the women were from Dallas, but others hailed from farther reaches of the state, and at least one had traveled to the church from Oklahoma.

But they all had at least one thing in common: Each was more than six weeks pregnant and could not have a legal abortion in Texas.

“My biggest fear in life is to not have any options, and I feel like somebody who doesn’t even know me took my options away from me, and it makes me furious,” Amber, 26, said in an interview.

When her doctor at the Southwestern Women’s Surgical Center in Dallas told Amber she could not have the abortion she sought, she started to cry.

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