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How a Texas family has been affected by the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that ended the federal right to an abortion. A state that has felt this change acutely is Texas. Some researchers say there have been at least 25,000 fewer abortions there since the court's ruling. From San Antonio, Katia Riddle brings us a story about a pregnant woman who wasn't able to get an abortion and another woman who's been trying to help.

KATIA RIDDLE, BYLINE: For three decades, Tere Haring has been making this promise to women - keep your pregnancy, and I will help you.

TERE HARING: I feel like you talked a woman out of an abortion, you owe her more.

RIDDLE: Haring is 69 years old. Her organization is Allied Women's Center. People come here for pregnancy tests. If they're positive, Haring and her volunteers try to dissuade them from having an abortion. When that happens, Haring feels responsible to keep helping them.

HARING: This is our size ones.

RIDDLE: She gestures to rows and rows of donated diapers. A pack of these can run 50 bucks. She gives these away. She's standing in the small house that she works out of.

HARING: And we go through a lot of diapers.

RIDDLE: How many?

HARING: In a month, it's, like, 10,000.

RIDDLE: Haring also hands out formula, food, clothes. If someone needs an electric bill paid, she writes a check. She's seen more new moms who need help this year a lot more. She gave out more than $9,000 in March - three times more than she did last March. People have asked for help with things like rent, cars, refrigerators.

HARING: Allied Women's Center, may I help you?

RIDDLE: Haring's phone is always ringing. She doubles as a kind of grandma to many of these clients. The woman on the other end of this call is telling her about a leak in her roof.

HARING: So is the water leaking from the rain?

RIDDLE: The caller is a woman who tried and failed to get an abortion out of state a few months ago. Her name is Anna. She and her husband, Tony, live 40 minutes away from San Antonio. That evening, they stand outside in their yard.

ANNA: I feel like I'm lucky that I found Tere, but it hasn't been that easy.

RIDDLE: NPR is not using Anna and Tony's full names. They fear the impact telling their story might have on their family. They're second-generation immigrants from LA. Six years ago, they decided to trade big-city California for the Texas countryside.

ANNA: Just the whole hype of moving to a different state because it's cheaper, a better quality life - we kind of went with it, and now we're here.

RIDDLE: They packed up their three kids and used their savings to move onto a farm. They bought some animals.

TONY: You see movies or TV shows about people living in farms and how easy it is.

ANNA: (Laughter) And then they get fleas.

TONY: It's not. It's not how you see it on TV.

ANNA: They get fleas, and I think there's...

RIDDLE: It worked OK for a while. They wanted a big family. The babies kept coming. Six kids in total - all boys. But when COVID hit, Tony lost his job driving a truck.

ANNA: My husband says when it rains, it pours, and it started pouring on us.

RIDDLE: Their five-bedroom house looks fine from the outside, but inside is a different story. Things are breaking down, like the washing machine. Anna walks past baskets overflowing with laundry.

ANNA: And so all these buckets of clothes is clothes that needs to be washed soon.

RIDDLE: The washing machine is one of many things they don't have the money to fix.

ANNA: We had a water leak in the kitchen, and then our water heater went out where I didn't have warm water to bathe the boys.

RIDDLE: The air conditioning went. Tony's truck broke. That made it much harder for him to find work. Then last winter, Anna found out she was pregnant again.

ANNA: All I could think about - like, I need an abortion because there's no way I can deal with everything going on right now and taking care of all the boys by myself and having another baby.

RIDDLE: Going to a state like New Mexico, where abortion is legal, was too expensive. She called a group that gives money to people in situations like hers, but in the end, she couldn't manage the travel.

ANNA: It was just the decision of driving by myself, getting the procedure done and driving back home by myself with all the emotions and then the clinical part of it.

RIDDLE: She doesn't have anyone else to help her with the kids. Tony is working odd jobs. They can't afford him to take even one day off.

ANNA: Or loading all my boys and driving eight hours away to get this procedure done.

RIDDLE: That's when she got in touch with Tere Haring at the crisis pregnancy center.

ANNA: I still struggle with, you know, thinking that I'm going to have another baby and our situation right now. But, yeah, she contribute to making it easier for me to accept.

RIDDLE: The heat index on this day is 102. With no air conditioning, it's hot in their house. Anna and Tony walk past the laundry baskets down the hall to the bedrooms.

TONY: So this is where our kids were sleeping.

RIDDLE: Tony points to mold on the ceiling above some bunk beds. This is where the roof is leaking. No one is sleeping up here anymore. The entire family has moved into one bedroom downstairs.

TONY: The house represents you, you know? You kind of want to make it look nice, be comfortable. And with the water leaks and all that stuff, it's just taking steps back.

ANNA: I know how stress is so bad for the pregnancy. And I feel so bad, but I'm trying not to stress out. But it's very difficult right now.

CATHY NIX: Come on in. The doors are open. We're ready to help you.

RIDDLE: Cathy Nix is the program director for San Antonio Coalition for Life. The antiabortion group celebrated the Supreme Court's decision a year ago. Nix says they're working to help women with unplanned pregnancies find resources.

NIX: You need those funds. Let's go find them for you.

RIDDLE: Nix says Texas is also stepping up to help parents who are struggling. The legislature recently boosted funding for the state's Alternatives to Abortions program. It's meant to provide resources and counseling. But whether or not this help will reach women like Anna, she's not sure.

NIX: I mean, I don't have figures. I don't have numbers. You know, funding is a big thing, but poverty will always be there. Struggle is part of the human condition.

RIDDLE: Struggle is something Anna and Tony say they've had enough of. Their baby is due soon.

ANNA: Having the light at the end of the tunnel, I can't see it right now.

RIDDLE: Are you scared?

TONY: You know what? I've never been scared before.

ANNA: I am.

TONY: I've been a little worried.

ANNA: I'm scared right now.

RIDDLE: Mostly, she says, she's scared for her children. Sometime around September, she'll have seven.

For NPR News, I'm Katia Riddle in San Antonio.

(SOUNDBITE OF SARAH LOUISE'S "FIELD GUIDE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Katia Riddle
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