The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade ushered in a new era of funding for both sides of the abortion debate.
With the legality of abortion now up to each state to determine, an issue long debated by lawmakers and philanthropists—when it was largely theoretical because only the Supreme Court could change it—suddenly has ramifications in the real world for people across the country. And donors on both sides will now have to put money behind their words.
“I think we’ll see much less performative and much more realistic funding,” said Leslie Lenkowsky, professor emeritus of public affairs and philanthropic studies at Indiana University.
These kinds of gifts are already starting to arrive.
Donations are pouring in to nonprofit groups in what experts call an example of “rage donating.” Yet few believe the additional funding for their causes will be enough to meet the growing demand for help either for women to obtain abortions or to support babies put up for adoption or in the foster care system.
At The Brigid Alliance, a New York nonprofit that provides funding and logistical assistance to people seeking abortions, the number of donors more than doubled to more than 6,000 after a project leaked in May. Supreme Court decision, according to Sarah Moeller, the group’s director of resource development. After Roe was ousted last month, their number of donors doubled again in three days, with people contributing between $5 and $50,000. Even so, Moeller said, donations cannot begin to meet the need.
“Since September, when Texas implemented its six-week ban, we have seen a 900% increase in requests for our services,” she said. “We expect we will continue to see rates rise as the dominoes fall after this decision.”
The Brigid Alliance helps about 125 people a month with abortion logistics and expenses – about $1,200 per person. Most applications come from Southern women, Moeller said, and inflation has increased many costs.
“I think it’s going to be impossible for every person who needs abortion care to be able to get to their appointments,” Moeller said. “We are doing everything we can to expand to meet growing demand. And each person who is able to help makes a huge difference. But the volume is simply incalculable at this point.
At Americans United for Life, which provides anti-abortion policy expertise to lawmakers nationwide, donations are pouring in from Americans of all ages and backgrounds, said Tom Shakely, director of engagement for the band. Even so, he said, the group remains “a multimillion-dollar David to the multibillion-dollar Goliath of abortion.”
“The end of Roe v. Wade unfortunately does not mean the end of Planned Parenthood or the end of abortion,” Shakely said. “Abortion will tragically continue to be a multi-billion dollar business in America until we clarify that abortion is incompatible with constitutional justice.”
Brandi Collins-Calhoun, head of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, said she hopes donors see the next stage of the abortion debate as a reason to redouble their contributions to what she sees as reproductive justice. .
“There are a lot of gaps and voids created by both states and philanthropy, due to their practices – the way they view abortion as a rights issue and not a health issue,” said she declared. “I think anyone who has the capital and the access should pay for people’s abortions. Whether it’s the state or philanthropy, I think everyone has a responsibility.
Aaron Dorfman, chairman and CEO of the committee, suggested that the responsibility of philanthropy, in part, is to fund programs that the government cannot or will not.
“It is a perfectly appropriate role for donors to step in in this way – both to address an urgent need and also to establish a framework for better government that responds more fully to the needs of its citizens,” said he declared. “Part of the way philanthropy can do this is to invest in empowerment work at national and local levels to support community organizing and advocacy work that really helps change how government works and who he answers.”
Dorfman noted that conservative funders have long supported their work in this way, while liberal funders have tended to be more reluctant.
The result, Collins-Calhoun said, is that many abortion rights groups have been overwhelmed.
“We are days away from the decision, and state and local leaders are exhausted,” she said. “They weren’t supported. Many of them are trying to figure out what to do next because they haven’t been funded yet.
Leaders on both sides of the issue say they recognize they will have to find their way quickly through this new reality.
“We’re really at one of those times in our country that could be very, very important,” Lenkowsky said. “Are we going to take up the challenge here? Or will we continue as if nothing had happened?
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