NEW YORK –
The reversal of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court has ushered in a new era of funding on both sides of the abortion debate.
Now that the legality of abortion is up to individual states to determine — a topic long debated by lawmakers and philanthropists, when it was largely theoretical because only the Supreme Court could change it — it suddenly has real-world ramifications for people. in all the country. And now donors on both sides are expected to put money behind their words.
“I think we will see funding that is much less performative and much more realistic,” said Leslie Lenkowsky, professor emeritus of public affairs and philanthropic studies at Indiana University.
These types of gifts are already beginning to arrive.
Donations are pouring into nonprofit groups in what experts call an example of “raising anger.” Few, however, believe that the additional funding for their causes will be enough to meet the growing demand for help for women to obtain abortions or to support babies who are put up for adoption or in the foster care system.
At The Brigid Alliance, a New York nonprofit that provides funding and logistical help to people seeking abortions, the number of donors more than doubled to more than 6,000 after a draft of the ruling leaked in May. of the Supreme Court, according to Sarah Moeller, the group’s director of resource development. Once Roe was rescinded last month, its number of donors doubled again in three days, with people contributing between $5 and $50,000. Still, Moeller said, donations can’t begin to match the need.
“Since September, when Texas implemented its six-week ban, we’ve seen a 900% increase in requests for our services,” he said. “We expect that we will continue to see increasing rates as the dominoes fall after this ruling.”
Brigid Alliance helps about 125 people a month with abortion logistics and expenses, about $1,200 per person. Most of the applications come from women in the South, Moeller said, and inflation has increased many of the costs.
“I think it’s going to be impossible for everyone who needs abortion services to get to their appointments,” Moeller said. “We’re doing everything we can to grow to meet the growing demand. And every person that can help makes a big difference. But the volume is just incalculable right now.”
At Americans United for Life, which provides anti-abortion policy expertise to lawmakers across the country, donations come in large numbers from Americans of all ages and backgrounds, said Tom Shakely, the group’s director of engagement. Still, he said, the group remains “a billionaire David to the billionaire Goliath of abortion.”
“Unfortunately, the end of Roe v. Wade does not mean the end of Planned Parenthood or the end of abortion,” Shakely said. “Tragically, abortion will remain a multibillion-dollar business in America until we make it clear that abortion is incompatible with constitutional justice.”
Brandi Collins-Calhoun, director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, said she hopes donors will see the next stage in the abortion debate as a reason to redouble contributions to what she sees as reproductive justice.
“There are a lot of gaps and vacuums that have been created by both states and philanthropy because of their practices, the ways that they frame abortion as a rights issue, not a health issue,” she said. “I think anyone who has the capital and access should pay for people’s abortions. Whether it’s the state, whether it’s philanthropy, I think everyone has a responsibility.”
Aaron Dorfman, chairman and CEO of the committee, suggested that philanthropy’s responsibility, in part, is to fund programs that the government can’t or won’t.
“It is a perfectly appropriate role for donors to step forward in this way, both to meet an urgent need and to establish a framework for better governance that more fully meets the needs of its citizenry,” he said. “Part of how philanthropy can do that is by investing in power-building work at the state and local levels to support community organizing and advocacy work that really helps change how government works and who answers to it.”
Dorfman noted that conservative funders have long supported his work in that way, while liberal funders have tended to be more reticent.
The result, Collins-Calhoun said, is that many abortion rights groups have been overwhelmed.
“We are days away from decision, and state and local leaders are exhausted,” he said. “They haven’t been sustained. A lot of them are trying to figure out what to do next because they didn’t get any funding at the moment.”
Leaders on both sides of the issue say they recognize they will have to quickly find their way through this new reality.
“We really are in one of these moments in our country that could be very, very important,” Lenkowsky said. “Are we going to rise to the challenge here? Or are we going to continue doing business as usual?”
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