Bowling for abortion access, funds
The Student Feminist Organization will participate in the National Abortion Access Bowl-A-Thon on Saturday.
The Bowl-A-Thon is the biggest fundraising event of the year, and it will benefit the Lilith Fund, a Texas abortion-assistance organization. It is a national event in conjunction with the National Network of Abortion Funds, along with other abortion-related organizations in the U.S.
Although the groups are from across the states, they are not affiliated. However, they do similar work to the Lilith Fund.
The Lilith Fund takes part in providing grants for women and girls to access abortion services for those who cannot afford it. The organization also provides counseling as well as education for communities about reproductive rights.
The group is run by volunteers, and they operate a hotline a few days a week. Second-year social work graduate student Amanda Williams is the outreach chair on the board of directors at the Lilith Fund and said they receive more than 3,000 calls a year from all around Texas.
“Unfortunately, we can only afford to offer grants to about a third of the clients who call us,” Williams said. “The average grant we give out to clients is around $118, which although significant, is sometimes still not enough to help them get the care they need.”
The group depends on fundraising efforts like the Bowl-A-Thon to increase its capacity for helping its clients take control of their reproductive lives, Williams said.
“The Bowl-A-Thon is a chance for volunteers and supporters to engage their peers and communities to give to an organization that is providing urgent assistance to low-income Texans as well as making their reproductive choices a reality,” Williams said. “It’s a fun and exciting way to contribute to a cause and make a difference in people’s lives. Teams who bowl for Lilith have fun names, team themes and can have fundraising goals as high as they want.”
With anti-abortion attacks at their prime in Texas, the Bowl-A-Thon is a chance for bowlers and donors alike to do something to reduce the blow that Texans are facing with clinics closing and access becoming even more difficult, Williams said.
Williams added that the common misconception people have of Lilith Fund is the misunderstanding of the high cost of an abortion.
“Many times, folks will say things like, ‘Why can’t people’s insurance just cover their procedure?’ The reality is our clients can’t afford private insurance plans that cover abortion, and due to a piece of Medicaid-regulating legislation from 1976 called the Hyde Amendment, they also cannot receive federal Medicaid funds for abortion,” Williams said.
“There’s a huge demand for abortion access in Texas, but because of the social stigma and political polarization of the issue, it’s often not talked about, and support can become limited.”
SFO member and psychology senior Laila Khalili said she believes the bowling brings joy to commemorating the event.
“It’s just a fun way to build community, meet other people who care about the same issue as you do,” Khalili said. “However, the location of the event is classified information. People like to come protest any and every event that Lilith Fund does. It’s just a day for us to have fun, dress up in costumes that we told our donors that we would.”
This is the third year in which SFO has raised money as a team. Every year, they have a different team name, but this year, it’s Coogs for Choice.
“If you look at the teams at the NNAF website, from all over the country, they have some pretty creative ones,” said Khalili, who has also put in an incentive to gain donations. “I told people that if they donated to my page and if I meet my goal that I would dress up as Daenerys Targaryen from ‘Game of Thrones,’ so that’s sort of a fun incentive to do. It’s just a fun event for us, after all the hard work that we’ve put into.”
Khalili has surpassed her $400 goal. The bowling team has an $800 goal to reach.
Although Khalili and Williams attend UH, they are not on the same bowling team. Williams is a member of the Farrar Fan Club bowling team, named after a fearless pro-choice leader and member of the Texas House of Representatives, Rep. Jessica Farrar.
“I’ve been a feminist activist in the Houston area for several years,” Williams said.
“I’ve done a lot of political advocacy and organizing around reproductive rights, but I felt the need, or the calling, rather, to do more reproductive justice-oriented work, which is exactly the kind of work Lilith Fund does.”
The Bowl-A-Thon will continue to accept donations until the end of April.
To donate to SFO’s “Coogs for Choice” or to the Lilith Fund, visit their respective pages.