Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, some restaurant owners have begun exploring ways to advocate for the importance of abortion rights and support others in accessing care. Among the first of them is Houston bar Angel Share HTX will spotlight the American Civil Liberties Union, or the ACLU, as well as the national Planned Parenthood organization, which provides reproductive healthcare, as its featured charities.
Starting July 1, patrons will be able to order items from a special menu to “vote” for which charity will receive the total proceeds.
Bar owner Mary Ellen Angel says she was inspired to feature the charities after hearing the news Friday morning, which left her shaking with rage.
“I’m just sick to my stomach,” Angel said on Friday, her body shaking with rage. “It’s just this never-ending battle, and it’s a crazy concept to me that these people that I’ve never met in my life literally have control over my body.”
“I was not shocked. I’ve been prepared for this news for months now, which I think most of us have been. But I still felt the wind come out of me because it became reality,” Smith says.
“The implications of the decision are huge — how much this is going to impact our communities and families, particularly in this industry, and it’s not lost on me that this will have very grave impacts,” Smith said.
Smith, who has been outspoken about women’s rights, particularly those pertaining to abortion rights and healthcare, says she continues to advocate and pursue the rights that she’s always fought for. And though Smith knows some people are more private, she’s confident others within the restaurant industry will follow suit in being more vocal.
“I know we just have to process what happened,” Smith says. “This isn’t a time to just bow down.”
Houston’s restaurant scene has been particularly active this year in philanthropic and social justice causes. Multiple restaurants raised thousands of dollars to help provide assistance to Ukraine amid Russia’s attacks, and Pride Month sparked a series of special fundraisers and promotions, with much of the proceeds going to organizations that assist the LGTBQ community and its youth.
Now, with the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and rolling back abortion rights in nearly half of the country, Houston bar owner and philanthropist Mary Ellen Angel predicts that Houston will see a similar outpouring from the restaurant scene — but this time, the terrain is far trickier, Angel says.
“I’m sure people will be well-meaning ... and it’s in my nature to do something, but the laws are changing,” Angel says, noting that the impending criminalization of abortion will soon make donating to abortion funds similarly unlawful in many places. Several abortion funds around Texas alone have already shut down, and clinics have ceased their services within hours of the decision. “You have to be careful where you donate money. People have to interpret the law. ... It’s a lot to navigate right now.”
This includes Angel’s bar Angel Share HTX, which has donated money to abortion funds in the past. But like Angel, other people in the local food and hospitality industry are fired up and ready to take action, she says.
But Angel says she’s comforted by the fact that Texas residents have some time to take action.
“The best thing is for people to vote and stand up to this affront on body autonomy,” Angel says. “All we can control is who we put in office in this state.”
In the meantime, Angel says she’s still “trying to come out with a strategy to receive the healthcare that we need,” explaining that to many other women and people able to give birth, abortion is a medical procedure that should be a part of healthcare.
“I don’t think people understand the repercussions of this. This is long-ranging. People are going to die (because) of this,” Angel says. But “if we all come together, maybe that will give us a purpose or hope.”
This article will be updated.