“Fundraising for abortion access is always really important. But especially now, when we’re in a moment where abortion rights feel really tenuous — not just in Texas, but nationwide — having something like Taco or Beer Challenge is critical to raise awareness of the work of abortion funds and to raise money to help more people access abortion.”
Sahra Harvin, Program Coordinator at Fund Texas Choice (FTC), has been inundated by a significant increase in assistance requests. FTC provides funding for Texans to travel to abortion clinics within the state and out of state. The total number of callers has been rising in recent weeks and, with clinic appointments filling up fast, many people are forced to travel farther to and from distant parts of Texas for abortion appointments.
“Everyone is pretty aware that if you can’t get an abortion in Texas right now, you’ll probably have to leave the state,” Harvin says.
That’s because a new law known as SB 8 went into effect on September 1. This extreme anti-abortion legislation bans abortions at approximately six weeks — before most people even know they’re pregnant — and allows private citizens to sue anyone who helps a pregnant person get an abortion, from friends and family members to providers and yes, even abortion funds.
Harvin says the increase in assistance requests, combined with the uncertainty of abortion access and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, make something like Taco or Beer Challenge (ToBC) all the more essential.
FTC is collaborating with partners Clinic Access Support Network and Lilith Fund to host a COVID-safe virtual ToBC this year. They designed a Bingo card filled with Houston-area taco spots and Lone Star State beers and are encouraging supporters to visit local businesses, share selfies on social media, and donate.
Over the last year, Harvin says there was some hesitancy to ask for money when so many were out of work or facing financial insecurity. “It’s really special knowing that despite these hardships, people have been excited to support abortion funds.”
Taco or Beer Challenge is impactful, Harvin says, but also just plain fun. “People like tacos. People like beer. People like funding abortion!”
Steph Black, Vice President of Tampa Bay Abortion Fund (TBAF) agrees: “Who doesn’t love a taco? It’s a fun and approachable way to talk about abortion funding and raise money. And even if you’re not able to donate, you can still participate and raise awareness. There’s something for everyone with Taco or Beer Challenge.”
TBAF kicked off its ToBC in August with a small, COVID-safe event at a local park. This year’s challenge is a mix of virtual fundraising — including a raffle of items donated by local creators and businesses — and strong grassroots support from individual fundraisers such members of the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area and West Pinellas NOW, who hosted the very first TBAF ToBC back in 2019.
“We really are a donor-driven fund: family, friends, and community members who want to help us provide abortion access in Tampa Bay,” says founder and board member Kelly Nelson. “We have a lot of passionate people who have supported us for many years.”
TBAF Board President Kris Lawler is spearheading the virtual fundraiser this year and says the fund is committed to the community not just by increasing access to abortion, but also by supporting local businesses, taco restaurants, and breweries.
“[ToBC] is a nice excuse to hang out with friends — safely, of course — have a taco, have a beer, and talk about abortion,” Lawler says.
Nelson enthusiastically adds: “Even small contributions make a difference. Eat a taco, drink a beer, and shout it from the rooftops: we’re building power and funding abortion!”