As soon as the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out the Texas law setting restrictive standards for abortion clinics, cheering and despair erupted from groups on either side of the abortion debate.
When the 5-3 ruling was released, striking down Texas’ House Bill 2—she was stunned.
“For a moment I was in shock... and then I started crying because it’s that big of a deal to the people we serve," she says.
A Passionate Pursuit
Kirkpatrick heads up the Texas Equal Access Fund, a nonprofit that helps low income women pay for abortions. She’s passionate about making sure everyone who wants an appointment can get one. In part, because she’s been there too.
“I had an abortion when I was 26. I was only able to afford it really because of a partner who was supportive," she says.
Not everyone’s that lucky, which is why she says it’s so vital women don’t have to journey across state lines or hundreds of miles away to find clinic that offers abortion services.
“We certainly celebrate this decision, but it is by no means the end of our work," she says. "First of all, we have to wait and see what’s going to happen, whether clinics are going to come back online in the communities where we used to be active like Lubbock and San Angelo and Waco.”
In Arlington, Kyleen Wright was disappointed by the Supreme Court decision. She’s president of the group Texans For Life.
“It’s clear to me that the Supreme Court chose the abortion industry and their dogma over women today, and that’s devastating.”
Wright says House Bill 2 was simply about raising the standard of abortion services, making the procedure safer for women, holding doctors accountable.
“We did not come at this from ‘oh, gee, how many abortion clinics do you think will shut down?’ We had no clue and were as shocked and surprised as everyone else when these clinics started closing," she says.
Wright says Texans For Life expected no more than a third of abortion clinics to shut down in the wake of House Bill 2.
In reality, about half have—and more would’ve closed if the Supreme Court ruling upheld the law.
Wright says better data and more fact-finding is her priority going forward.
“Continue to look for strategic legislation that is good for women and protects babies as well. And we want to do it in a way that can be upheld by the Supreme Court," she says. "Obviously we have some homework to do, 107 pages here to study yet.”
And despite the fact that it’s Monday and legal writing doesn’t exactly read like a novel, she’s probably not the only North Texan poring over the landmark ruling.