CHEcast Ep 41: Abortion Access w/ Kat

August 11, 2021 Steve & Gabi
CHEcast Ep 41: Abortion Access w/ Kat
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to unravel, we saw an increase in barriers to abortion access due to the widespread shutdown of clinics across the nation. Even at a time when healthcare was limited due to social distancing measures, politicians, such as Governor Greg Abbott, made receiving healthcare even more challenging by deeming abortion as "non-essential" and passing bills, such as SB8, during the 87th Texas Legislative Session. In this episode of the CHEcast, we talk to Kat, a public health champion, abortion rights activist, and member of Buckles Bunnies Fund—an organization established during the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic to fund abortions and keep them accessible.  Listen to this week's episode to get a deep dive as to how COVID-19 impacted abortion access, learn about Gov. Greg Abbott's plan for abortion, and find ways that you can support Buckle Bunnies Fund or participate in combatting SB8!

Featuring: Kat, Buckle Bunnies Fund

*DISCLAIMER: Views are our own and do not reflect those of the Center for Health Empowerment*

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IG: @bucklebunniesfundtx & @checastpodcast

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--Additional Notes, Links, Corrections and Context for this Episode--
COVID-19 Pandemic
Buckle Bunnies Fund
Center for Health Empowerment
CHE Relief
Avita Pharmacy
Purple Noodle Marketing

Gabi Antuna  0:01  
CHEcast is a program of the Center for Health Empowerment a nonprofit sexual health clinic that provides HIV prevention services, including PrEP and PEP, HIV testing and care, and STI testing and treatment to our community at little to no cost. We specialize in providing care to people of color and other marginalized communities. We have clinics in both Austin and Dallas and offer convenient telehealth services across Texas. Visit us online at to book your appointment today.

Steve  0:27  
Welcome to another episode of the CHEcast with your hosts, Steve and Gabi. And now, the CHEcast. 

Welcome to another episode of the CHEcast. I'm Steve. 

Gabi Antuna  0:44  
I'm Gabi. 

Kat  0:46  
And I'm Kat. 

Steve  0:46  
Welcome to the show. So tell us, so how did you two meet? That's my first question.

Gabi Antuna  0:53  
Just Twitter mutuals to be honest, like genuinely, I think like our Twitter, or at least my Twitter, is like a lot of activists and a lot of community activists. So I've just been reaching out to a lot of people that I see really involved in their communities. And they're in the San Antonio area, which I think is, cause that's my hometown. And I haven't, we haven't really reached out to anyone in the San Antonio area. Right now we've only focused on Austin. So I think it's cool that we're starting to reach out and focus on other communities. Just pretty dope. But that's how I met them, 

Kat  1:20  
I'm glad that you reached out. 

Gabi Antuna  1:23  
Yeah for sure!

Let's give a big warm welcome to Kat. Welcome to the show Kat. It's so nice to have you. Before we dive into the show, we just wanted to thank you for joining us and applaud you for everything you do for the community. Now, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Kat  1:36  
Yes. Thank you so much, again for your kind words. My name is Katerina. I'm first gen Russian American born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. And I've been involved in reproductive justice organizing for about five years now. And I've had the pleasure of working with some really bad ass people and organizations all across Texas. And they're pretty much like the reason why I do the work that I do today. And right now, I work for the city, in coordinating COVID-19 vaccination clinics across San Antonio. And then in my spare time I work with Buckle Bunnies Fund, which is a Texas wide abortion fund that assists clients with requests. And we also do care kit distributions that include like free plan B, condoms, pregnancy tests, and narcan and all that other good stuff. So just trying to do what I can.

Gabi Antuna  2:29  
Yeah, for sure. That's why I reached out to you honestly, is because I saw you being so active and posting about all these different kits and stuff. So I was like, that's something that I definitely want on this podcast, I think we definitely need to uplift your voice, for sure on a platform. So I'm a public health student. And I know that you're also a public health student, what inspired you to study public health? And what issues are you most passionate about?

Kat  2:48  
Yeah, so I feel like I've always been interested in health. And I went to a high school that was mostly focused on health careers and health professions. And I initially wanted to go to medical school, and then I realized I hate organic chemistry, and most of Western medicine. 

Gabi Antuna  3:09  
That really does it.

Kat  3:11  
And I actually initially started off in a completely different major. But in my first year in my undergrad, I got involved with our local Planned Parenthood chapter on campus. And that kind of just really pushed me forward so that I could really align my passions with my academic and professional career. So I switched over to public health. And my concentration is actually in epidemiology and disease control. I graduated last year. So it's very fitting for this pandemic. It's been very interesting, finally, being able to put everything that I learned in class, like into actual practice, and with my job right now, so it's definitely a lot, but it's very rewarding, and I love it. And for me, my passion definitely lies in reproductive justice and sexual health. And I've been really, right now with my job. Just talking about vaccinations and immunizations with people definitely becoming an increased interest of mine, just to get people protected as much as possible, and really going hard on like prevention practices. So yeah, that's like pretty much all that is my life and all my passion. I really am very happy that I can do this.

Gabi Antuna  4:31  
Yeah, that's awesome. We appreciate all of our public health champions. I also like, I hated ochem and stuff like that. So I switched from biology, like pre-med to public health, because I was like, oh, gosh, no. Absolutely not. You think you like medical school until you take ochem. Did you want to talk about like your grad school experience maybe on the podcast? How's that been so far? Where, which school do you go to?

Kat  4:55  
Yeah, for sure. So I got my undergrad at UTSA and I'm doing my graduate degree right now also at UTSA. It's under their health and kinesiology program with the health track. It's really similar to an MPH the Master's in Public Health. Just a little bit cheaper and in my price range but I really love it. I have, started back in August of last year. And it's, it's been hard definitely trying to work full time. And especially with my job right now. I'm like, constantly trying to struggle between, like actually doing reports and like doing my actual job versus like showing, like theoretical concepts of like stuff that I'm literally already doing in my work. So sometimes I email professors and I'm like, this is literally my job. I don't have time to do this assignment. Sorry. Okay, thanks, bye, smiley face :) 

Gabi Antuna  5:52  
We need you in the real world. 

Kat  5:55  
Thank you. But it's been hard, I took a five week summer course, worst idea of my life, I'm never doing that again. But I'm gonna slow down for the fall, just take it one class at a time. And then hopefully, I want to do my doctorate in public health. But that might come later. Because I'm broke. And that's school, takes like a certain portion of your soul. And I don't think I have much of that soul left. 

Gabi Antuna  6:22  
I feel that for sure.

Kat  6:23  
It's gonna be a little bit more just like, I think I'm gonna finish, I should finish fall 2022. And then from there, I'll try my best to just work a little bit more and then take on the second leg of grad school.

Gabi Antuna  6:39  
Well, that's awesome. Best of luck to you like finishing your degree and all of that so amazing. Now you're currently a part of Buckle Bunnies Fund. Can you talk to our audience a little bit about what the organization is, some of its main goals. and how the organization was formed?

Kat  6:53  
Yes, of course. So Buckle Bunnies was started by a few of my fellow repro baddies that I've had the pleasure of working with in the past. And a lot of us came together with this organization called Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity, and others like Planned Parenthood, in volunteering and lobby days. And in response to the abortion ban Governor Abbott tried to impose in March of 2020 deeming abortion clinics as non essential businesses, Buckle Bunnies was born. We wanted to ensure that Texans still had support available to them in such a time of uncertainty, fear and a lot of pain. We are seeing a lot of people losing jobs, even family members. So there was just a lot of things going on last year and adding an abortion ban on top of everything was just like a no go thankfully it got overturned, but we're like, we've had it with you, Greg Abbott, like we're gonna fund abortion, and we are a mutual aid abortion fund. So all of our funds raised go directly to funding abortion, and we are 100% volunteer ran. And we want to ensure and set the standards that abortion funds should always prioritize their missions of providing aid to their clients over like six figure salaries, or rejecting clients because they don't meet quote unquote, like the requirements for financial aid, which that's complete bullshit in itself. And our goal is just to like help as many people needing to pay for their abortion, or like associated costs, travel or lodging as much as possible. And we know that especially in Texas, navigating abortion, and the process of getting one is difficult. And at times, it can even be like really discouraging and demeaning. And we just wanted to create, like a culture of support, respect and resilience and just be here for people and remind them that like we're here to fund abortion, they're not alone, and they can always count on Buckle Bunnies.

Gabi Antuna  8:47  
That's awesome. I didn't even realize how recent the org was born. Were you a part of, like a part of the founding team, or did you just? 

Kat  8:54  
My best friend started Buckle Bunnies, Michaela, and I was working at a doctor's office at the time. So it was a little chaotic. But I ended up coming on like a few months later, just doing like fundraising and volunteer work. And then we started implementing the care kit program. Because I thought, we had like just a lot of supplies from tabling and we weren't really able to do in person events anymore, obviously. So we just tried to think of different ways that we could get like care out to people so that's why we have our request form, the care kits and just trying to get as many people help as they need.

Gabi Antuna  9:33  
Well, that's awesome if any of our audience members are interested in joining or helping out with Buckle Bunnies Fund I'll make sure to put any info in the show notes and Kat do you have anything to shout out, any social media's or anything?

Kat 9:44  
Yeah, so I think on Twitter we are @BBfundTX and then on Instagram @bucklebunniesfundTX and then our website is And you can reach us through DMs or the request form anything. We also have some cute merch leftover so, we sometimes have abortion booty shorts. 

Gabi Antuna  10:09  
Do you know the origin of the name Buckle Bunnies like the? I know that wasn't on the document. Okay. 

Kat  10:14  
Buckle Bunnies is a, they are basically cowboy groupies. And they were called buckle bunnies because they would want to go, go after like the Cowboys that would get awarded, like the biggest buckle in any show. And they would all like be around them, and a lot of us and a lot of the current like volunteers, and like our founder Michaela and myself, like we are either current or former sex workers. So we decided to do a little play on words and like we're whores paying for people's abortions, stay mad about it bitch. 

Gabi Antuna  10:56  
Love that love that for sure. 

Steve  10:58  
That's funny

Gabi Antuna  10:58  
What made you so passionate about becoming an advocate for repro justice and what inspires you to do the work you do? And you can share some of your most rewarding experiences as well, if you'd like. 

Kat  11:07  
Yes, thank you. Um, so pretty much for as long as I can remember. I've always been one to like, try to fight for what I think is right. And as I start getting older, and like realizing the role and like restrictions that the government imposes on people, especially in regard to like reproductive and sexual health access, I knew it was wrong, and I wanted to speak out about it, I started reading up a lot on some books, and I think my like, most radical, like defining read was Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, um, when I was in high school, and that's an arch like, this is like, there's a lot of fucked up shit in this world. And like, I can't believe people get away with it. So I think after reading that, I was like, I need to really be like, more outspoken. And I definitely remember like my senior year of high school. Like I said, we had a health focused High School and we had like, medical debate, and I was debating about abortion against a guy. And it was very interesting. We obviously won the debate, but I got very, like heated and there was even people in my class that didn't think that abortion was legal in Texas. So it's just, just goes to show like how much like limited knowledge people had. And when I was in high school, I actually ended up having a friend that had an abortion. And I think that's when they like really opened up my eyes and like being there for her. That, that's like when it really hit me like the actual reality of having an abortion, and like being there with her through the process of like her ultrasound, and then there's a 24 hour waiting period. And then like helping her trying to figure out how to pay for it. And everything else in between, it was really hard. Plus, we're in high school, and I just did my best to be there for her. And I remember I was holding her hand and like just that look of relief in her eyes, like knowing that I was there for her. And when she was like really scared, and didn't know what else to look out for, like I could be there for her. And I think that's when I realized, like, this is something that I definitely want to continue being a part of, and helping people go through because I know that it can be tough. And throughout my entire life, my mom was like really open with me about her own like experiences with miscarriage and abortion. And I think that is what really helped normalize it for me. And not like view it as something stigmatizing. Like, I've always, I'm like you should do whatever the hell you want with your body. And I even remember, like, back when I was a teenager, my mom worked for a Catholic hospital. And then I couldn't get my birth control paid for through my insurance, because they were a Catholic hospital. So it was it was really messed up. And I think it was just like those small little micro aggressions that like really built up as a kid that I was like, none of this makes sense. And I don't like any of it. And just like everything we have to deal with as kids and like mild sexualization and just everything from social media trying to pivot us into something that we're not I think that's what really just motivated me to want to do something right. And then whenever I got into undergrad like as I mentioned, I got involved with the Students United for Planned Parenthood chapter at UTSA. And that's where I really just became friends with like a lot of amazing organizers. They took me under their wing, and taught me about like everything that has to do with organizing about reproductive justice. And they opened a lot of their hearts, their homes, their spaces to me, and I'm like extremely grateful because if it wasn't for them, and what they taught me I definitely wouldn't be like where I am today and I am like constantly learning and even from like younger organizers right now. Like there's so many bad ass people I've been able to meet. And it's like through this, like labor of love that we're all working through in doing is why we're able to just come together and get stuff done. And I've been able to like work with Lilith Fund, the ACLU of Texas, URGE, the Sex Workers Outreach Project, Advocates for Youth, We Testify, and like so many other great organizations. And like, I even helped organize a conference, like crucial conversations about sexual assault and trauma. And we had women from the Surviving R. Kelly documentary come and they did like a Q&A panel. I'm like, I'm sometimes in shock. And like, in disbelief of like, my own experiences, I'm like, I did that? Like me? I was a part of that? So it's been very rewarding. And I just, I always remind myself that I do it for my community, and people that are like minded, and for the people that need a little bit more of a push and to have these resources. So 

Gabi Antuna  14:15  
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for sharing. And thank you for being so open and vulnerable with us and sharing your stories. I think that's often so important in education is to, sharing your own like personal stories, too. So that's awesome.

Steve  16:10  
A lot of information put out there. I do appreciate it. Can we take a break? 

Gabi Antuna  16:13  
Yeah, let's take a break. 

Steve  16:13  
Yeah. All right. We'll take a break. We'll be right back. 

Gabi Antuna  16:16  
See you soon. 

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Steve  16:38  
And we're back. So where did we leave off? Gabi.

Gabi Antuna  16:44  
Alrighty, so we left off talking about the Texas Lege once again, as we've discussed in previous episodes, 2021 is an odd year meaning that the 87th Texas Ledge took place this year. During the main session Governor Greg Abbott pushed for many harmful bills, including those touching on voter suppression, restrictions on abortion access, forbidding transgender children from playing in sports that align with their gender, and many other awful bills. Unfortunately, one harmful bill entitled SB*, also known as the "heartbeat bill" passed during the regular session, which places restrictions on abortion access. Kat, can you talk to our audience about what exactly this bill entails? And when it will go into effect?

Kat  17:18  
Yes. So this is SB8, I hate it. It essentially bans abortion at six weeks. And usually people don't even know that they're pregnant at six weeks. That's if you take into consideration like when you're late on your period, being six weeks pregnant means that you're two to three weeks late on your period. And a lot of people have irregular menstrual cycles, I know that I do. And sometimes that can, you can just like skip out on a menstrual cycle completely also. So you, that could be something that's normal for you, especially if you're taking hormonal birth control. So this just basically makes abortion that much harder to access in Texas. So again, like I said, banning it at six weeks goes into effect September 1. And it also includes, you, anybody can sue anyone in the state of Texas for aiding and abetting an individual in getting an abortion for up to $10,000. So even if you drove somebody to a clinic, abortion providers, people that work in abortion funds, anyone can pretty much sue us. But there was a little bit of a caveat. And I have a few friends that are lawyers that have read the bill, and they said that essentially, the person has to prove that they were harmed, emotionally distraught or harmed by this abortion. So we'll see how that goes. But in, in all complexity, and then going into like the simplicity aspect. Abortion is going to be banned at six weeks. And then there's a $10,000 bounty on anybody's head that basically helps people navigate the abortion process in Texas. 

Gabi Antuna  19:16  
Yeah, so just so our audience will know when does this bill go into effect? 

Kat 19:20  
September 1, but there was a lawsuit filed by the Center of Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, and Whole Women's Health, and Whole Women's Health Alliance. Um, so we'll see how that goes.

Steve  19:33  
So let me get this straight. You're saying that some random dude who claims he's a southern preacher can say that he was hurt, like emotionally distraught, over a person he doesn't know, female, who got an abortion and that the person that drove them there can be sued for $10,000. Wow.

Kat  19:53  
Yep. And I listened to the entire three hour session for SB8 when it was heard. And that's what all of the lawyers and representatives that were speaking about and against the bill were trying to bring up. And unfortunately, it still somehow got passed. And the person that proposed the bill, like she closed in her, in her closing statement, she talked about her miscarriage, which is completely unfortunate. And I am sad that she had to go through that. But she was basically comparing the trauma of her miscarriage to an abortion, and that, that's why she thinks nobody should have an abortion because she had a miscarriage. So that's, yeah, but you know, I'm, like, Come at me, Greg Abbott, I'm still gonna help people get abortions and help them find out when they're pregnant. So that's, I just, it adds another layer of complication. But it doesn't, it's disheartening, but not to the point where I don't think I'm gonna be able to do what I care about. I'm gonna find a way to make sure that I can still do that and not get sued for $10,000. But we'll see. Even if I do, I'm like, I don't have that money. And I don't have any assets. So have fun. I was like, I'll give them my firstborn child, if that's what they want so bad.

Gabi Antuna  21:24  
Yeah, and it's just so scary, because you said that you helped your friend get an abortion and I know my mom has helped many of her friends get an abortion. So it's just so terrifying how many people are at risk, because they helped their friends through an awful and terrifying time in their life.

Kat 21:36  
Yeah. And like, we help, we run an abortion fund dude. I was like, I, I've donated like over $2,000 to abortion. So I'm like, is it because of like the funds that I donated to a fund? Does that mean that someone can now like come for me for that, or like my direct contributions to Buckle Bunnies, we'll see. But I'm like, whatever. At this point, I'm just so tired of it. But that's why I've taken precautions, and I put like, all my social media on private. So just another layer of protection, probably going to delete my LinkedIn.

Steve  22:15  
I mean, this, this isn't a new problem. I mean, Roe vs. Wade started in the 70s. And that started in Texas. 

Kat  22:25  
Yes, she did live in Texas. Texas always hates abortion. 

Steve  22:31  
It has been ground zero for oppressing women since its origin, it seems. In the 1970s, that's when women sort of fought against it and one, and to this day, the governor here is still oppressing women in Texas

Kat  22:46  
And it's not even like, it's not just even like Roe v. Wade. So there's also the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits um federal funds to be set aside for funding abortions and any abortion related procedures. So anybody that's like on Medicare or Medicaid, on any tribal assistant funds that they get with, like their health care, and anybody that works for the federal, federal government cannot have their abortion funded. And there was a woman Rosie Jimenez, and she passed away because of the Hyde Amendment, and she lost... Once it came into place, she no longer had access to get an abortion like through her Medicaid. So she went through what the unsafe abortion and she ended up dying. And she actually died like right across the street from the abortion clinic that she got a previous abortion at. And it's all because of this amendment, the Hyde Amendment. And it was, the guy that wrote it Henry Hyde, like his literal words were that he knows that he can't prevent every single woman from getting an abortion, but he wants to talk, like he knows he can stop poor women from getting an abortion. So that's just like what we've had to deal with. But a caveat or something, that's something good out of this conversation is that the Hyde Amendment wasn't included in this, the most recent budget. So I think this will be the first time around that the Hyde Amendment won't be included. And we can actually probably fight for that coverage to be reinstated. But it's a slow process. And I feel especially right now with this impending September 1 date that we're just going back to what people are most afraid of, which is like unsafe abortion practices. But there's a lot of activists, myself included, that really are going to like stick the ground to protect people's access to safe abortion, and we're always going to promote like safe abortion practices, and spread knowledge and education and resources. 

Gabi Antuna  23:57  
Yeah, so just to clarify with our audience Kat is abortion still legal in the state of Texas?

Kat  24:58  
Yes, it is, baby. It's 100% legal in Texas and in all 50 states, abortion is still legal, and then in, on September 1, abortion will be quote unquote, legal until six weeks. Hopefully, the lawsuit that they filed will get heard. But if it doesn't, unfortunately, then it will be six weeks. But I believe in New Mexico, not too far away, their limit is 32 weeks. So do with that information what you will, it's like wink you know, New Mexico? ;)

Gabi Antuna  25:38  
Yeah, and I also think it's important to highlight on the show that abortion is not just a woman's right issue. So Texas is oppressing so many people, it's not only pressing woman, but trans men and non binary folks. So this is such a large issue. And this bill needs to, we need to fight against this bill. Yeah, I was also wondering if you could talk to our audience a little bit about what Governor Greg Abbott has planned for this current special session that began on August 7th. And for our audience members who don't know a second special session was called as Governor Greg Abbott promised to call a special session after a special session until they reached quorum. For this second special session, lawmakers will have to start over on every item, including filing bills and holding committee hearings. Last session, there were 11 items on the agenda with abortion restrictions, and restrictions included. And he has called another special session to pick up where he left off. Kat can you talk to our audience a little bit about what Governor Greg Abbott has planned for abortions this special session.

Kat  26:28  
He essentially just wants to make it even more harder to get an abortion in Texas than it already is. And he's just so vehemently pro, like anti abortion, pro life. And I know that there's going to be like legislation similar to Senate Bill 394, which prohibits people from providing abortion inducing drugs by mail or delivery service, which right now, especially in these times, it's a direct attack on providers and funds trying to navigate associated hardships with COVID-19, due to like operational time cuts and increased client requests from individuals in remote areas. And like, even I remember seeing like Ted Cruz was, went on this like entire social media campaign against misoprostol, saying that it's super dangerous. And misoprostol is one of the abortion pills of medication abortion that's used. So there's misoprostol, and mifepristone, and those are the two like key abortion medications that are used. And they're actually safer than Viagra. And most abortion procedures are safer than like other outpatient procedures and like plastic surgery, definitely proven by science. And it's just another attempt at making abortion inaccessible. And it's like a second tier to the six week ban, and just further implicates charges against self managed abortion, which is criminalized in the United States. And it's when individuals obtain abortion pills by themselves without a technical quote unquote, prescription from a doctor and perform an abortion like at the convenience of their home. So I, that's a separate different topic, I can talk about self managed abortion for hours. But with that criminalization plus the six week ban plus like trying to make it harder for individuals, to even if they did do like, for example, an online consultation with a client and then gave them a prescription for abortion pills and mailed it out to them, that would be come illegal. So it's just like the government interfering in people's access to health care. And it's really frustrating because at the end of the day, people just want their bodily autonomy to be protected and want to do what they want with their lives and their families. And I don't think it is ever in the place of someone like Greg Abbott, or any other like reproduct-, representative to or senator for that to be like.

How would you say...

To be like a defining decision, like they're the last call for it? It's really frustrating and annoying.

Gabi Antuna  29:26  
So do you or your org have anything planned for the upcoming SB8 enactment, especially since September 1 is quickly approaching? What actions is your org taking? Are y'all taking any? Is there anything that you would like to shout out?

Kat  29:39  
Not that I'm currently aware of. I do know that Planned Parenthood is working on getting people to sign their pledge, in case they do have a call to action, but I do know also, with the increased cases and the Delta variant with COVID-19, we're gonna start most likely seeing more like protocols from cities on like social distancing, and essential businesses being only like essential businesses can be open and we'll probably go back down maybe to even another lockdown. We'll see how the cases go. But I think for now we just hang tight and cross our fingers. And I think at this point, I'm just like, so desensitized to, like, everything that's been going on that I know that at the end of the day, like people shouldn't be afraid of like the future of abortion access, because the abortion funds and abortion clinics are still gonna be here. And we're still going to be able to provide assistance and we're going to find different ways to do that safely and effectively, and make sure that nobody's like left in the dark. I just highly encourage everybody follow like Texas State abortion funds, like Buckle Bunnies. There's also fun Frontera Fund, West Fund, Tea Fund, Lilith Fund and other abortion and like reproductive rights and advocacy related orgs across Texas. 

Gabi Antuna  29:54  
Well, thank you so much for sharing and thank you for all of your hard work and your resilience. We're going to take another quick break and when we're back, we're going to be talking about the effects of COVID-19 on abortion access.

Steve  31:16  
We'll be right back.

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Steve  32:02  
And we are back. So what's next? 

Gabi Antuna  32:06  
Yeah, so we are back. And in our last episode, we talked about COVID-19 and its parallels to the HIV/AIDS crisis. In this segment, we want to talk about COVID-19 and its effects on abortions. And not only that, but also its effect on our ability to reach out to our community. Kat, can you talk to our audience about COVID-19's effects on abortion access? And how did abortion centers respond to this pandemic?

Kat  32:25  
Yes, of course. So I think like what, right when COVID like really hit Texas back, I would say like the biggest increase like when we really saw like lockdown was like March 2020. That's when Buckle Bunnies uh came to be. And then pretty much all of the abortion clinics because of Greg Abbott had to switch over to like telehealth appointments. Because Greg Abbott tried to say that abortions aren't essential services. So by providing virtual visits and consultations and then mailing out abortion pills, which is like now being questioned by Greg Abbott. Um, so that's like what abortion clinics were trying to do to like mitigate the caseload and still provide people with the care that they need. So that's just what personally, like through individuals that I know that work for Planned Parenthood clinics and other abortion, like independent abortion clinics, like that's what they were really focused on, was just like trying to still get care out to individuals, and like, just really navigating like telehealth outreach, and I think it's actually been a good turnaround, interestingly enough, because now it's like being more accessible to individuals. And then I think with more like expansion in telehealth services, and getting that information out to people that live in like really remote areas, we can get them access to health care without necessarily for them, like having to travel. So the one good thing that came out of it, I guess.

Gabi Antuna  34:04  
Yeah, I also wanted to know if we saw a rise in unwanted pregnancies were people forced to carry to term due to the lack of resources and uncertainty going around in the world?

Kat  34:12  
Yes, since a lot of clinics were forced to have limited operational hours due to COVID. Either like having to close down lay off staff or because of an implicated abortion ban, a lot of people weren't able to get access to abortion clinics and ended up getting, like having their pregnancy prolonged. And then some people had to go to, had to go through with full term or had to go through like the entire abortion process like all alone by themselves without any individual that can like be there for support or comfort with them. And I know Advocates for Youth and we testify. We testify as an organization that does like abortion storytelling. They did an entire comic series on one of my friends. She actually contributed to it about her abortion experience during COVID. And what that looked like and how it was like, emotionally on her and just like the entire process in itself, so I can forward that over to you super cool graphic. Um, I really loved it. Um, but yes, of course. And I also knew a few people that ended up traveling to New Mexico because they were past the 22 weeks, so they had to get an abortion somewhere else. So it was just a lot of things coming on. And even, like, we saw an increase in requests definitely come in, like once we started promoting that, like Buckle Bunnies was here, and providing aid access. I know, some abortion funds also weren't able to provide assistance, like as much as they wanted to. But I think that's also like just a separate caveat on like, how some abortion funds operate. But, and then definitely, so that freeze in Texas that happened in February, if you remember, it happened on Valentine's Day night. And a lot of people were stuck in their houses for 72 hours when they couldn't take Plan B. So, um, since like, June through now we've seen a lot of requests and like one week, we funded like over $5,000 in abortion. So a lot of people ended up getting pregnant when they didn't want to just because of also like climate change, it's really ridiculous. And I remember even like during the freeze, I, there was, I was able to get out of my house and like some areas were like remotely drivable. And I ended up like, dropping Plan B off for somebody like while it was snowing like, I was like, you're not getting pregnant babe. Not today, not in the snowstorm. So, and I also think that like a lot of people were quarantining with their partners and having sex like people do that. And some people also didn't have like the access to like condoms or contraceptives, that they would have been getting if all of like, preventative services, were open, accessible and available, and like all businesses were like, open up their hours, I think we would have definitely seen, like, obviously, like less people be pregnant. But it's just like, we're here for people no matter what, and like judgment free. If you're pregnant and don't want to be like, that's why we exist. And that's why abortions exist. 

Gabi Antuna  37:48  
Wow. Well, I definitely applaud you for driving through the winter storm. That's, wow, that's impressive and amazing. And we are so grateful to have people like you in our community. 

Kat  37:59  
Thank you. Yeah, I was like you, you're gonna get these, this Plan B.

Gabi Antuna  38:03  
I couldn't even drive, let alone walk without slipping through the winter storm. I had the worst bruise for like a month. So thank you so much. 

Kat  38:11  
Thank you. 

Gabi Antuna  38:12  
Can we also touch on some restrictions that we were seeing prior to the pandemic? Can you touch on some Trump era legislation that further restriction, restricted abortion access over the course of the pandemic? And you can include the gag rule if you want as well?

Kat  38:25  
Yeah, so even like with Trump and Governor Abbott, they were just like increasingly trying to make abortion like harder to access, and also like that funne,l then like umbrella'd into like Title X. Um Title X, or Title IX? 

Gabi Antuna  38:42  
Yeah, I think it's Title X.

Kat  38:44  
Yes, I was like, I'm pretty sure it's Title X. And so Title X clinics are like clinics that would get federal funds for basically helping lessen like pregnancy rates. So they can do, like provide all forms of like contraception. And, like, talk about birth control, and, and prescribe birth control and do pregnancy tests, but they cannot talk about abortion. And that was like, a really big, no, no, and that's why Planned Parenthood actually ended up pulling out from like that funding program, because there's just so so many nuances. Because like, once that the Gag rule and like Title X funding, like started coming into place, there was like some amendments to like, Oh, well, you can talk about abortion, but you can't perform the abortion. And then it's like only this kind of provider can talk about abortion. And one of them was like only like a medical provider. So like a doctor could talk about abortion and then like that was because a lot of these like Title X clinics are being run by like nurse practitioner staff, so they weren't technically being considered as a medical doctor, even though like they still had the authority to like prescribe and treat patients and prescribe medications and treat patients. So there's just a lot of like little nuances here and there. And they were just really trying to haggle down on those. And I remember, like, even before that they were like trying to flat out like ban abortion during like the 2019 legislative session. I remember that. And we also, but thankfully, like I remember, because I was involved in the 2017 legislative session and the 2019 legislative session. And like, between that time period, we saw like less anti abortion bills get introduced, like on the floor, versus like, bills that would protect like abortion access, or would like, question like, current regulatory practices in place, and like restrictions, policies, there's like a woman's right to know pamphlet, also talking about, just like, the it's like, includes like the 24 hour waiting period, making people like view their sonogram, listen to the ultrasound, all of that stuff, just to like, make, try to traumatize people out of their abortion, essentially. Um, so definitely, like, there's been a lot of interesting people involved, like in the Texas ledge that are definitely like vehemently anti abortion, like, every legislative session, they try to make things like more restrictive than they need to be. And I even remember they tried to do one where they had to, you had to, like file a death certificate to get an abortion. 

Gabi Antuna  41:41  
Oh, my gosh, file a death certificate?. I had never even heard of that until right now. That's wild.

Kat  41:46  
 Yeah, yeah, I remember yelling at one of our representatives during the Lobby Day about it. And then I remember once I got to yell at Greg Abbott in 2017. That was my like, crowning moment, as a little activist. I got to yell at Greg Abbot, hair flip. Yeah.

Gabi Antuna  42:07  
Yeah. So as an activist, how has COVID-19 shifted your ability to connect with your community, especially when it comes to holding in person outreach and educational events?

Kat  42:16  
Yeah, so like community organizing, and community outreach is 100%. Like really focused on like, actual conversations that you have with community partners, and like having events and, like outreach, kind of what is? I'm like, at a loss for words today, I'm sorry, like, like out, like trying to do outreach in the community. So like, actually talking to people getting them the supplies and resources that they need. So we've definitely like seen, I've seen so many organizations move more into like digital organizing. And I've seen a lot of like social media pages and like accounts pop up. In regard to like, I, it's like a double edged sword. Like, it's the social media activism. And I think it's really important for people to get introduced to topics about like social and reproductive justice, and especially, like last year, with all of like, the Black Lives Matter protests, like I think it was really crucial in getting people like to understand that, like, why we were talking about these issues, and getting people like access to information, but I don't, I think it's like, the first step. It's like, knowledge. Knowledge is power. But then it's like, you got to also like, do something about it. And like, show it with your like, actual, like, you can't just like say that you're like anti racist, or like, pro choice or pro abortion, like you can like yell that all you want online. But if like all of your family members are like, racist, pro life people. And like, you've never even tried to have a conversation with them about anything that you care about, like, are you actually doing the work? No, because you can't even talk to your own family members and friends and like, that's your immediate circle and the people that you surround yourself with? And if you can't even talk to them about it, like why are you labeling yourself as an activist, if you can't even like do the work that you say is like, so important to do? You know, that's just like my little two cents? 

Gabi Antuna  44:18  
Yeah, while, I think social media is like this huge asset and there are many pros to it, especially when it comes to spreading information. I do think that last year, we saw a large rise in performative activism. So I do think we have to be mindful when it comes to our social media presence as well.

Kat  44:34  
Yeah. And it's like some people, like I knew a lot of people that went to like Black Lives Matter protests, and I'm like, your boyfriend is a racist piece of shit. You should like, so I was I was really annoyed by that. And like a lot of people see, like protests and rallies as like photo ops. And so they'll like go there with their little signs and like post about it on all their social media, but then it's like... Like, okay, I went to a protest, I can go back to, you know, my mimosas with my Karen group and forget about everything that I really want to work on to, like improve in society. So I thought it, like you said performative activism, not really here for it, and I'm like, I'd rather like do the work and not tell anybody versus like being like me, me me, like, look at what I'm doing, look at how important I am. I'm so like this and that, like nobody cares. Like, if you actually care about your community, you're not going to make it about yourself, you're going to make it about them, and do what you can for them. And, um, like, it's definitely really different, like you're talking about, like with digital organizing, but I still think it's pretty effective. And I mean, it is limited to like people that have access to the internet and social media and have accounts with certain platforms. But I still think like doing like virtual check ins with people and also doing like contactless delivery, having like request forms, like that's how we've been still able to, like have like, we have like our online presence and have online tools for people to use and ways to reach us so that we can still have like that little bit of communication, and like outreach and organizing still present, 

Gabi Antuna  46:17  
How have you and the organizations you're a part of overcome social distancing barriers? I know that we developed the CHEcast as a way to reach our audience in the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Kat  46:26  
Yeah I mean, like, it's literally all about like resilience and staying safe and understanding like that, we all need to do our part to like, minimize the spread of this pandemic and being safe about it. And if we need to have like, online meetings and online calls to action, and like reverting, like our ways for like, what we're doing and like community organizing, like physically, to do that more digitally, but also keep it accessible and available. But then also, like, we can still do like contactless ways of organizing, so like putting out flyers, pamphlet distributions, or even just like, like I said, before, doing like social distancing, outreach, wearing masks and still like talking to people, making sure that they're okay, doing check ins, getting them what they need. It's like, all what community is about.

Gabi Antuna  47:18  
What are some major projects you and your organizations have accomplished or hope to accomplish during the pandemic?

Kat  47:23  
So with Buckle Bunnies, we were able to be born and rise out of the ashes. And we've helped almost... We've helped over 120 people with their abortion care, and like we've fundraised over $20,000 for abortion and like a euro loan, and we're like, a completely volunteer ran indie fund. So I'm really proud of us on that. And I think we're just going to continue to do our best to grow as an org and get people what they need, in any way & capacity that we can. And right now with the city helped over. I've helped establish, coordinate, schedule like over 120 vaccination clinics since May. So it's been really awesome just to see people getting vaccinated, getting excited for vaccine, getting excited to get vaccinated and providing incentives and like new and exciting ways to get people interested and motivated to do it. So it's like slowly but surely it's a process and I think I have like a definitely like an interesting view on like the pandemic because I work mostly in pandemic relief response right now. So I like implementing like what I, my knowledge and like experiences that I'm having with COVID, like directly into like my freelance work with Buckle Bunnies, and all my repro activism.

Gabi Antuna  48:47  
I know I keep saying this, but I'm just so impressed with all the work that you do. And we're so grateful to have you a part of this, as a part of this community. And I'm looking forward to really seeing you and your organization blossom even further. 

Kat  49:02  
Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I'm always here to help and do what I can in my small minimized capacity here in San Antonio. Like so I'm gonna do what I can.

Steve  49:15  
Okay, so let's take a little break and we'll be back in just a moment with some final thoughts. We'll be right back.

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Steve  50:02  
At last welcome.

Gabi Antuna  50:04  
Finally, we have made it to the end after many technical difficulties. We are at the end of this week's episode of the CHEcast. Thank you so much for joining us Kat. It was a pleasure having you, do you have any final thoughts you'd like to share with our audience?

Kat  50:16  
I just wanted to say a big thank you for having me on the podcast. And for everybody that is interested in like trying to do work against SB8, or getting involved with Buckle Bunnies, feel free to give us a follow. We're always fun-, fundraising for individuals, like every single week, we have requests come in. And if you are interested in volunteering, just reach out. And hopefully this ban doesn't go into place. But if it does, do not fear because Buckle Bunnies are here.

Steve  50:48  
I want to say thank you very much for coming on the show, Kat. It was a pleasure to meet you, and to hear you. I appreciate so much what you do for the community and for those that aren't being looked out after. Thank you again for being an activist. Thank you for all that you're doing. But most of all, thank you for yelling at Abbott. I appreciate that. 

Kat  51:13  
Of course, it's like my crowning moment and jewel, as an individual and one day I hope to do it one more time.

Gabi Antuna  51:25  
I would love to be there. And I guess my final thoughts are just thank you so much for being on the show too. I'm glad that we became Twitter Mutual's for sure. Yeah, I'm glad that we reached out, or that I reached out to you. This was so informative, you're so resilient, and powerful and amazing and brave and I look forward to hopefully blossoming into the activist that you are.

Kat 51:48  
You're so sweet and I appreciate it so much. And feel free to always reach out if you ever need anything, need help. I know way too many people for my own good. And I'm always here to help shared networking and resources. So yeah,

Gabi Antuna  52:02  
I would love especially as a little public health student, would love some grad school recs and stuff for sure. But if you'd like to know more about Buckle Bunnies Fund, Kat, or how you can get involved in fighting SB8 we will upload some links in the show notes. We'll see you next time.

Steve  52:16  
Have a great day. See you later bye.

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Gabi Antuna  53:45  
CHEcast is a program of the Center for Health Empowerment. We have clinics in both Austin and Dallas and offer convenient telehealth services across Texas. Visit us online at to book an appointment today. 

CHErelief a program of the Center for Health empowerment aims to bring sustainable development and migration mitigation to Honduras. For more information and to find out ways that you can lend a hand, visit us online at, thank you.

Steve  54:14  
That's our show. Thank you for listening. Please Like and Share. Have fun, be safe and stay awesome.