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Padma Lakshmi defends filming 'Top Chef' in Texas, raises money for abortion funds

“Texans are up against so much right now," including "a hateful anti-abortion bill," she tweeted.
71st Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Padma Lakshmi said she will be helping to raise money for local organizations that support abortion rights while in Houston filming season 19 of "Top Chef."Frazer Harrison / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Padma Lakshmi will be spending lots of time in Houston as she films the latest season of "Top Chef," and the TV host plans to support local causes while she's in town.

Earlier this week, news broke that the hit Bravo show would be heading to H-Town to film its 19th season, and Lakshmi wasted no time letting her fans know that she would be helping to raise money for Texas abortion funds after the state's restrictive abortion law went into effect earlier this month. (Bravo is owned by TODAY's parent company, NBCUniversal.)

The law, known as S.B. 8, bans abortions "after a fetal cardiac activity can be detected, or as early as six weeks into pregnancy," per NBC News. It also allows private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps a person get the procedure after this time.

In a series of tweets posted Wednesday, Lakshmi revealed she's working to support local organizations that help Texans pay for their procedure and transportation to their appointment.

"I’m continuing this fight here on the ground with local branches of @PPACT (Planned Parenthood Action), @AbortionFunds & @ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)," she wrote.

According to the fundraiser website, all money that is raised will be split equally among 10 organizations that help fund abortions, including Texas Equal Access Fund, Jane's Due Process, Support Your Sistah at the Afiya Center, Clinic Access Support Network and Fund Texas Choice.

The "Tomatoes for Neela" author also expressed her disdain for the law in a separate tweet.

"Only 11% of Americans believe that abortion should be illegal. The govt doesn’t have the right to force ppl to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term," she wrote.

In her series of tweets, Lakshmi made it clear she opposes several of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's controversial laws, including one that many critics have said restricts voting rights since it bans overnight and drive-thru early voting.

"Texans are up against so much right now — a hateful anti-abortion bill, erasure of voting rights, and a humanitarian and constitutional crisis at the border," Lakshmi wrote. "Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the U.S. Its government and the majority of its people oppose Gov. Abbott’s heinous bills."

In a press release about "Top Chef" Season 19, Bravo expressed excitement over the opportunity to highlight the racial and ethnic diversity of Houston's population.

"We hope to showcase the rich heritage of Houstonians through the food that defines them," reads the release.

Lakshmi also noted that these very same people are most affected by Gov. Abbott's abortion and voting laws.

"Our show highlights the small businesses that hire the very same women, BIPOC ppl & low-income folks that these laws harm most," she tweeted.

The announcement of the new season's location was met with excitement from many Houstonians, but it also drew some criticism from those on social media, with one person on Instagram commenting, "Very surprised to go to Texas with the new anti abortion laws and the fact that @padmalakshmi, a major feminist, is the host of this show!"

In a tweet posted Friday, Lakshmi wrote, "Abortion funds on the ground in Texas have consistently said boycotting the state *isn't* the answer. Laws like SB8 hit BIPOC communities the hardest & boycotts have a harmful economic impact on those already vulnerable."