Philanthropy’s Role in a Post-Roe Reality

Philanthropy’s Role in a Post-Roe Reality

San Francisco Foundation held a donor briefing on December 1 about the current abortion access crisis. This timely discussion was held on the same day the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy in Mississippi and ultimately challenges the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Sociologist, author, activist, and SFF donor, Dr. Gretchen Sisson, explained the vantage point of on-the-ground practitioners and advocates as well as what donors can do to mobilize philanthropic resources as we brace for the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade and the continued threats to reproductive health.

Gretchen gave an overview of the current case before the Supreme Court and possible outcomes, as this is the first case before the Court that could directly overturn Roe v. Wade. With a majority of conservative justices, there is a strong possibility that meaningful abortion access will be lost. “We’ve been preparing for this since Trump was elected. If we lose that, we’ve lost the fight,” she emphasized.

As you’ll see in our Reproductive Health & Rights Give Guide, which Gretchen curated and suggests:

  • supporting existing abortion infrastructure including clinics, abortion funds and networks, which are all underfunded;
  • giving to clinics, especially in states bordering Texas and Mississippi (like New Mexico) and other states that are teeing up similar restrictive legislation;
  • seeking to find smaller, more localized organizations close to those most impacted;
  • supporting education and public awareness around medically induced abortions;
  • reducing the urge to fall back on old versions of illegal abortions. The landscape has changed and “abortion pills” will likely be the go-to when access is restricted.

Making a gift to a smaller organization will have a much greater impact and giving to clinics so that they can stay open is critical. Many clinics are going out of business because they are losing patients due to severe abortion restrictions. “We should all do the most radical work we feel comfortable doing, and now is the time to be creative with moving money closer to the ground and closer to the people in direct service,” says Gretchen.

She stressed that abortion access is a criminal justice issue, a racial justice issue, an economic justice issue, a safety issue – and core to people’s freedom.

“Contrary to widely held beliefs, most people who have abortions are already parents. They are mostly women of color, and most are living in poverty,” says Gretchen. “The freedom to determine if/when you have children and with whom, is essential to shaping the rest of our lives. You can’t isolate (abortion access) from other issues. We don’t live single issues lives.”

Gretchen’s final word of advice was to look where you’ve been donating and see if things are “business as usual” or if they are responding to the Mississippi case. Look at social media feeds and recent emails. Many progressive organizations do not talk about abortion rights but should be during such a pivotal crisis moment.

You can watch a recording of the event on SFF’s YouTube page.

Here are ways to help:

  • Review our Reproductive Health & Rights Give Guide, curated by Gretchen, for suggestions of where to give now to respond to the current crisis and prepare for continued threats to reproductive health, both in vulnerable states and at the federal level.
  • Give now through Donor Center if you are an SFF donor.
  • Contact SFF for more giving recommendations by emailing donorservices[at]