The fifth annual BettyFest benefits the Lilith Fund for a second year in a row. The Lilith Fund is doing the groundwork every day in Texas to fight and protect women’s rights to equal access reproductive care. With Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court and the overall mission of the MeToo movement, we are thrilled to partner with TLF again to shed light on the fight for reproductive equity through comedy, an often male dominated space.
We sat down with Amanda William, The Lilith Fund Executive Director, to talk about the vital work they’re doing in Texas.
BettyFest: We love the Lilith Fund! For those who may be unfamiliar with the organization, can you tell us what makes the Lilith Fund’s work so vital to our community/Texas women?
Amanda Williams: Hey, we’re your local abortion fund! Lilith Fund, founded 2001 right here in Austin, funds abortion and advocates for change through the movement for reproductive justice. We operate a volunteer-run hotline in order to provide direct financial assistance to people in the central and southern regions of Texas. The majority of our callers are women of color, their mothers working to make ends meet. We do our best to bridge the economic gaps our callers face so they don’t have to decide between receiving abortion care and putting food on the table.
We also engage in local and statewide movement-building, organizing, and policy advocacy work in order to create systemic change.
BF: What is the need? What areas do you serve?
AW: Last year, we heard from more than 6,000 people in Texas who needed an abortion but couldn’t afford it. The need is consistently growing and unfortunately we’re only able to offer funding to about one-quarter of our callers due to lack of funds. The majority of our clients live in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Rio Grande Valley, and El Paso. Since our founding, Lilith Fund has provided grants to over 10,000 people who otherwise would not have been able to afford a safe abortion.
BF: What are some organizations Lilith Fund works with to make sure clients are taken care of?
AW: We proudly partner with many local practical support organizations working hard to ensure that patients make it to their appointments. Organizations include: Fund Texas Choice, The Bridge Collective, Frontera Fund, Clinic Access Support Network, West Fund, TEA Fund, and more. Of course, we also work closely with the local clinics in our service area who provide such excellent care to our clients! Locally in Austin we work with Whole Woman’s Health, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, and Austin Women’s Health Clinic.
BF: What about this partnership with BettyFest are you/LF excited about?
AW: Working with BettyFest last year was such a tremendous joy for us. We were blown away at the organization, passion, and hard work all of the women at BF put into the whole production from start to finish. The crowd really enjoyed themselves and the level of support we received from the community was absolutely incredible. It’s always really refreshing to bring humor into the fold because abortion can seem so bleak and dark in the existing narratives that media puts out there. This event is an important way to break down abortion stigma and get people talking about their own experiences with reproductive health. Now that the event will be at the Scoot Inn, which is a larger venue than last year’s, we’re excited to reach even more people and engage them around our work! And what’s not exciting about women supporting women and laughing all night long? It’s a great night for women in comedy and reproductive rights in Texas.
BF: As the Executive Director, how did you get into this work?
AW: I came to this work as a queer Chicana feminist organizer who is deeply passionate about reproductive health, rights, and justice. I had an abortion when I was 19 years old as a college freshman, so this work is also extremely personal. It’s an honor and a privilege to do this work with an organization whose values are so closely aligned with mine and I am so proud of my board, staff, volunteers, and supporters who make our mission possible.
BF: Why is now an important time to get involved and support your work?
The recent nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has thrown the future of abortion rights in the U.S. into question. Many states are preparing to advance their own political agendas in the event that Roe v. Wade — the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the U.S. — is undermined or overturned outright. The threat of losing access is not new for the people of Texas. (In fact, we’ve been living in a bleak reality of limited access for a decades.) People call our hotline every day because they can’t gain access as it is. But, believe it or not things could potentially get much, much worse. We must garner support and build power around reproductive rights now so we can fight back when the time comes— whether that’s at the federal level, during the Texas legislative session which starts in January 2019, or right here in Austin. The time is now!
BettyFest 2018 benefits the Lilith Fund. Proceeds from the event will help TLF in their mission to fund abortion and aid women in Texas. Get your tickets for a full night of fierce lady comedy at BettyFest on Saturday, Nov. 3 here: bit.ly/2xziL4b
Ticket are $20 online and $25 on the day of the event.
Make a donation any time to the Lilith Fund and learn more here: www.lilithfund.org