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Reproductive Care in Central Texas

With Roe v. Wade overturned, San Marcos’ mutual aid groups are taking action for abortion rights. In a climate where Texas legislation restricts access to abortion care, San Marcos Abortion Activists (SMAA) and allied coalitions are filling the gap, offering legal reproductive services and advocating for legislative reforms. 

In Texas, Senate Bill 8, also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, denies many abortions, creating hurdles for access. The act was passed in 2021 and authorizes civil suits for performing or “aiding and abetting” an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is five weeks into the pregnancy. 

Mutual aid groups and individuals have stepped in to address governmental restrictions, such as Abagail Milam, Co-Founder of San Marcos Abortion Activists. They are currently providing legal contraceptives to Texans, with Plan B pick-up spots across San Marcos, aiming to curb abortion demand, fostering a public-driven mutual aid system. 

The repro care packages at these established spots include condoms and reproductive health items in addition to the Plan B. The locations are Modern Day Hemp, Splash Coworking, Wake The Dead, and Studio 13. Operation hours and more information can be found here.

“People can just pop in, ask for a kit, and have all of their needs covered,” said Milam. 

SMAA collaborates with a network of organizations spanning Central Texas, engaging in joint events and initiatives to advance reproductive rights. Partnering with local drag and queer organizations, Deeds Not Words, The Bridge Collective, About Texas, and Red State Access, SMAA fosters a broad coalition dedicated to advocacy and activism in the region.

Red State Access, a strong partner to SMAA, is an organization that provides information to people in banned states about accessing abortion pills by mail. 

“We definitely do a lot of work around education, letting people know self-managed abortion is safe, it’s possible,” said Milam. “We don’t provide any pills, we don’t do anything that’s illegal, but we do work with organizations that provide a lot of informational resources.” 

In October 2022, the campus-based mutual aid organization Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) collaborated with SMAA and the community-oriented group Mano Amiga to organize a day of action in response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade in a joint effort to advocate for reproductive rights. 

Pooling their resources, these organizations planned a coordinated effort aimed at raising awareness and rallying support for abortion rights. Through strategic planning sessions, the groups developed a comprehensive agenda comprising peaceful protests and community outreach initiatives. 

Former YDSA media chair Genavive Petrie helped to organize the walk-out during class to protest the Roe v. Wade overturn. 

“It was an empowering moment just to see women and other people coming together to let our voices be known even though we are just one campus in the grand scheme of Texas,” said Petrie. “It is still very important to let the community know that you are not alone in your beliefs, and we will not go down with our rights being violated quietly.” 

The overturn of Roe v. Wade in June of 2022 sparked varying reactions nationwide, including outrage and celebration. Overall, the majority response (62%) of the American public was disapproval. Texas’s trigger law, enacted in response, imposed near-total abortion restrictions upon Roe’s reversal. 

“It was so disheartening knowing that there’s so many women that would disagree with that decision and that it is almost out of our control,” said Petrie. “It is a total disregard for people’s own autonomy.”

The San Marcos Abortion Activists actively engage with local government, advocating for legislative change in Hays County. They sometimes speak at San Marcos city council meetings, pushing for reforms in reproductive healthcare policy and specifically supporting initiatives like the GRACE Act. 

The GRACE Act has been recently passed in Austin by city council, encouraging other cities across Texas to follow suit, such as San Antonio, Denton, and Dallas. The act partially decriminalizes abortion but there are still risks involved under state law. It is comprised of two parts: 

  1. City funds shouldn’t be used to solicit, catalog, report, or investigate reports of abortion.
  2. Police should make investigating abortion their lowest priority.

If enacted in San Marcos, the GRACE Act would serve as a step toward protecting reproductive freedoms and promoting equitable healthcare access. While it is not clear if it has been officially introduced as an agenda item to the city officials of San Marcos, SMAA is focusing on fostering community support and mass mobilization before moving forward

For future plans, SMAA is working with organizations toward a ballot initiative to decriminalize abortion in Hays County, but is currently facing setbacks due to a partnered organization’s board member stepping down.

“We are taking time to strategize first and develop a cohesive plan because we really want to make sure that our next action is something that’s successful,” said Milam. “The fight for reproductive justice is not going anywhere for a very, very long time.” 

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