Big Bend Reproductive Coalition brings in over $10k at fundraising event

Big Bend Reproductive Coalition co-founders Mo Eldridge and Lisa Kettyle address the crowd at a fundraising event at El Cosmico in August of 2022. Photo by Hannah Gentiles.

MARFA — The Big Bend Reproductive Coalition, a recently-formed grassroots organization aimed at sharing information about reproductive care, saw a sizable turnout at a fundraising event held Monday at El Cosmico. Over 200 attendees from across the region flocked to the campground, where Cloudy’s Desert Bistro supplied dinner and local musicians provided entertainment.

The event raised a total of $10,500 to fund the group’s efforts, said coalition founder Lisa Kettyle, who was overwhelmed by the show of support. That includes money raised through a raffle supported by over 70 artists and businesses, and food and drink revenue generated by El Cosmico and Cloudy’s, both of which donated all proceeds to the coalition. 

“I still get teary-eyed about it,” said Kettyle. “We just could not stop saying, ‘It’s working, it’s happening.’ We are going to be able to help so many people because of the generosity of the Big Bend, and that is so amazing.”

Alpine-based band Tiger’s Eyes headlined the event — the group’s first live performance — with Thor & Friends, Lindsey Verrill and DJ Calletana Vargas providing entertainment as well.

Kettyle launched the coalition this summer after a leaked draft opinion foreshadowed the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that had guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion. When the reversal finally did come down in June, the coalition quickly organized a protest on the Brewster County Courthouse lawn.

The group, which is entirely volunteer-run, has distributed pamphlets containing information about access to reproductive care in the region. Kettyle said the money raised this week will help further such efforts, ensuring the distribution of information about where the law currently stands and what services are available where, plus film screenings, workshops and educational events aimed at sharing similar information. Such resources are vital when information is rapidly changing, said Kettyle.

“It’s very confusing that Texas law has changed twice in the last couple of months, and it’s about to change again when the trigger law goes into effect August 25,” she said, referencing the pending state law that will ban nearly all abortions in Texas and establish penalties for performing banned abortions as soon as the Supreme Court’s judgement is formally handed down.

The group also plans to create care kits containing the emergency contraceptive Plan B, menstrual products, heating pads, tea and other comforting items for anyone who might need them. “If someone is experiencing a miscarriage, for example, we want them to have something comforting,” said Kettyle. “We want them to have the feeling of not being alone.”

Money raised will also be used to encourage voting and to lobby the Texas Legislature in the 2023 session, which will require traveling to Austin. Then there are some small costs, like maintaining the group’s website, that will be supported by the funds. The website contains a resource list, and emergency contraception kits are available upon request through the site.

The coalition will host a screening of HBO documentary The Janes, about pro-abortion activists in the pre-Roe era, at The Crowley Theater on August 25.