Before Roe v. Wade, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, many women needed abortion care that they could not afford. Before Roe, the abortion care they needed was also illegal in most states. The very few legal abortion clinics in a handful of states were hard to get to. Illegal abortion providers charged a small fortune for their services with no guarantee of safety.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, small groups of people began coming together, mostly in secret, to help the women in their communities get what they needed. One of these groups, the Jane Collective of Chicago, trained activists to provide abortion care to women.
Most of the other groups helped women locate abortion providers or travel to states where abortion was legal. These first, pre-Roe funds included the Hersey Abortion Assistance Fund of Pro-Choice Resources in Minnesota, the Choice Fund of Fountain Street Church in Michigan, and the Women's Medical Fund in Wisconsin, all three of which are still helping women in their communities 40 years later.
After the U.S. Supreme Court recognized women's constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade, even more abortion funds began to form around the country to help women pay for abortions. For about 20 years, these abortion funds worked in their communities, largely isolated from their sister abortion funds. Then, in 1992, a few activists from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Iowa began searching for abortion funds around the nation. They located a total of 28 different abortion funds.
In 1993, 50 abortion fund activists from 22 abortion funds in 14 different states came together to found the National Network of Abortion Funds.
These local activists decided that by joining forces, the National Network of Abortion Funds would create opportunities for the funds to share their work, to learn from each other, and to support each other, whereever they were located. The National Network of Abortion Funds would also work at the national level to fight against unjust policies like the Hyde Amendment that interfered with low-income women’s access abortion care.
Since then, the National Network of Abortion Funds has grown to include nearly 100 abortion funds in the United States, Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The Network also includes one international Internet-based abortion fund that helps women who live in countries where access to abortion care is severely limited or illegal.
In addition to continuing the daily work of raising money to help women pay for abortion care, abortion funds now frequently work to improve the laws in their states, elevate the voices of women who cannot afford to pay for an abortion, and challenge the stigma that surrounds abortion and abortion funding.
The National Network of Abortion Funds is a recognized leader of national efforts to repeal the Hyde Amendment. We educate legislators, the White House, the national media, and the public about the particular barriers to abortion for low-income women, immigrant women, Native and indigenous women, minors, women in prison, and rural and urban women.
Together, we work for a better world – a world where all women have the power and resources necessary to make healthy decisions about their bodies and families.
We know that women’s lives, futures, and dreams matter.
For more of our story, check out our video series.