Bakers from across the Rio Grande Valley held a contactless bake sale in an effort to raise money for the region’s only abortion fund.
The National Network of Abortion Funds’ 2021 annual Abortion Access Fund-a-Thon fundraiser occurs every year to raise money for abortion funds across the country. For about a decade, the effort was known as Bowl-A-Thon before the name was updated.
In the Valley, Frontera Fund is the only abortion fund that provides practical support and financial assistance to people who reside in the RGV or are coming to the region to receive their abortion.
For this year’s Fund-a-Thon, Frontera Fund set a collective goal of $10,000. And as a way to raise money towards that goal, the nonprofit held their second contactless bake sale: Bake-a-thon.
“Due to the pandemic, they didn’t want to stop doing the bake sale, but we needed to figure out a way to do it safely,” Cathryn Torres, a board member with Frontera Fund, said. “So we just continued our no contact bake sale.”
Frontera Fund held their first contactless bake sale for the national fundraiser last year, since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the nonprofit to cancel the numerous fundraising events they had planned. Despite the change, Torres noted at the time that it was the most money they had ever raised.
The bakers involved in this year’s Bake-a-thon were taking orders from across the Valley, Torres said. There were bakers from McAllen, the Mid-Valley, Brownsville and even Austin — all raising money for Frontera Fund.
“We did add more bakers in the McAllen area because people reached out, asking if they could participate,” Torres said. “I’m doing deliveries out in the Mission area, because I really wanted to try and hit that (area) as well.”
From April 16 until Wednesday, the bakers were taking orders for the bake sale, while the contactless delivery was scheduled for Saturday.
Some of the pastries available were chocoflan slices, cherry pie pops, vegan blueberry muffins, strawberry thumbprint cookies, rum carrot cake and peanut butter bacon bourbon chocolate cookies, to name a few.
Each baker took the appropriate precautions by sanitizing their kitchens, wearing the appropriate equipment and doing contactless delivery or pick-up, Torres explained, adding that they wanted to minimize the amount of contact as much as possible.
Torres said all the money raised for Frontera Fund will go directly to funding abortion access in the region.
Whole Woman’s Health McAllen is the only clinic that provides abortion care south of San Antonio, which is within a 100 mile checkpoint. According to the Bake-a-thon page, this prevents undocumented people from leaving to seek abortion care outside the Valley.
While the nonprofit covers a portion of the procedure, which could range from about $800 and upward according to Torres, Frontera Fund also helps with practical support, such as transportation, hotel accommodations, and the consultation visit (which is required in Texas).
Despite these financial barriers, which Torres noted are a major issue in the Valley, there could be more if the current bills move along in the 87th Texas Legislature become law.
On April 15, House lawmakers advanced a package of restrictive abortion bills, according to The Texas Tribune. If passed, the bills could ban abortions as early as six weeks without exceptions for rape or incest.
One Valley lawmaker, state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, also authored one of these restrictive abortion bills. His Senate Bill 394 would ban pill-induced abortions after seven weeks. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration guidelines approve the abortion pills for use up to 70 days (10 weeks) or less.
“It’s basically a near total ban on abortion,” Torres said about House Bill 1515, also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act. “It creates a civil cause of action that would allow any person from the state to sue an abortion provider or anyone who helped a person get an abortion for a perceived violation of any abortion restriction.”
Furthermore, Torres said the bill would allow anti-abortion advocates to harass doctors, patients and their loved ones, “ambushing them with frivolous lawsuits” that do nothing but extend the barriers in place.
“People will be well beyond six weeks by the time they are able to determine how far along they are and it only prolongs that need for their abortion,” Torres explained. “So if there’s a six-week ban, then people are unable to get the care that they need. Essentially, it’s not right.”
She argued the heartbeat bill, which seeks to ban abortions at six weeks, doesn’t allow women time to seek abortions. Most don’t know they’re pregnant before then, and the bill does not factor in the cost of the procedure itself, Torres said.
The abortion fund tries to alleviate that cost of the procedure since it causes a longer wait before someone knows how far along they are.
Torres noted people are speaking more freely about abortion on social media and many are willing to donate towards the fundraiser; some didn’t even want the baked goods, she said. Instead they’d inform the bakers to give the baked goods to someone who’d want them.
“No need for baked goods,” Jan Roscetti wrote along with her donation to the fund. “Greater need for improved abortion access.”
The bake sale also met its goal of $1,000 a day before bakers stopped taking orders. As of Friday, Bake-a-thon had raised a total of $1,513.
“Thank you for all of your hard and necessary work,” an anonymous donor wrote with their donation. “Y’all are so awesome and brave. I know this work is not easy and I have so much admiration and respect for what yall (sic) do.”
Although Bake-a-thon is over, Torres said anyone interested in donating to Frontera Fund’s Fund-a-thon can do so at https://fund.nnaf.org/campaign/frontera-fund-a-thon/c324440.
At nearly $7,000 raised, Torres said Frontera Fund is so close to meeting its overall goal of $10,000, adding that she’s thankful to everyone who has and is planning to donate.
“We’re trying to have these conversations and holding these big sales and events and speaking to the media to talk about abortion unapologetically,” Torres said. “It’s not a dirty word, it’s health care.”