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6 Reasons You Should Give to an Abortion Fund

There's an urgent need to help low-income women receive abortion care.


The following article first appeared on the Web site of The Nation. For more great content from the Nation, sign up for its e-mail newsletters here.  

How urgently do low-income women need help paying for abortion care? In a few weeks I’ll be taking part in the National Network of Funds (NNAF) Annual Bowl-a-Thon, wearing funny shoes and rolling the big black ball to raise money for the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF). Bowling! The last time I went bowling was on a blind date in college. Believe me, I would not be humiliating myself in this fashion if I didn’t have to.  That’s how urgent the need for abortion funding is. 


Bowling, house parties, book sales, rummage sales, happy hours, blogging, tweeting, year-end appeals: for grassroots organizations without major donors, fundraising never ends. Think Sisyphus with his rock. Donations arrive -- 25, $35, occasionally as much as $100 offered by people who are often young and not very prosperous themselves -- and fly out the door. The people who give to abortion funds are kind and generous and committed to making women’s right to decide whether and when to have a child a reality. But what they aren’t so much is well-off, able to make the kind of significant gifts that would lift the organization to the next level. 

NYAAF manages to give something to all its clients, even if it’s just $50, but many other funds have to turn women away. “We get twenty to forty-five calls on the mornings our hot line is open, but we can only help around ten women,” says Shailey Gupta-Brietzke of the Lilith Fund, of Texas.

And that, dear pro-choicer of means, is where you come in.

Time was, women didn’t have much money of their own. Time was, the women who did have wealth tended to be noncontroversial in their philanthropy -- education, the arts, hospitals, children. People used to say that women donated more to their husband’s college than to their own. Today though, there are quite a few women with significant wealth under their control, and many who want to donate in ways that are activist and feminist. Much better! 

I’m not exactly sure why abortion funds haven’t been on the receiving end of this new, women-oriented donating -- perhaps it’s just that as grassroots organizations, they are not as visible as, say, Planned Parenthood, or as well-connected to the right circles. Maybe it is the stigma of abortion; celebrities give to many causes, including some very obscure ones, but can you think of a single one who has championed abortion -- even though many have surely had at least one or, if male, been involved with one? But if you have read this far, dear pro-choicer of means, a little stigma is not going to bother you. Is it?

Here’s why you should make a major gift to your local abortion fund, or to the National Network, which helps support and expand local branches:

1. For every $1,000 you give, you change the lives of at least five women, and probably more. A $25,000 gift would help more than 100 women. If you think about it, there are not many other ways $100, or even $500, can make such a big, life-changing difference to one person. Hard as it may be to believe it, lots of women simply cannot raise the $400 or $500 for a first trimester abortion -- even after they’ve sold their jewelry or TV, put off paying bills, borrowed from friends. And the longer the abortion is postponed, the more expensive it becomes. Between the new state restrictions and the recession -- ending on paper but not for millions of women who were already struggling when it began -- more and more women can’t afford abortion care. “We helped almost twice as many people this year as last,” says NYAAF board member Steph Herold.

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