PA: What Happens When Philanthropy Fails to Fully Support Abortion Access

Written by: Brandi Collins-Calhoun

Date: October 27, 2021

It’s really hard not to compare foundation funding to state/public funding when we’re discussing abortion access. How can philanthropy expect abortion activist to combat both anti’s and the state when they’re operating with barely half the resources?

As the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported, an examination of Pennsylvania Department of Human Services records showed that the state agency has allocated more $134 Million to anti-abortion activities. For decades, they practiced “double funding,” diverting federal money intended for low-income families and state funding to anti-abortion groups.

According to the piece, “Pennsylvania is one of only nine states that route a portion of federal cash assistance from mostly women and children in dire poverty to CPC’s. That money, is known as TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) and is disbursed to about 65,000 Pennsylvanians.”

But, “since 2001 Pennsylvania has redirected $1 million a year in TANF money to Real Alternatives (a PA anti-abortion group and crisis/fake pregnancy center).

This is in a state where, according to the U.S. Census, 14% of families with children live below the poverty line as of 2019.

Against All Odds?

The imbalance in funding is what has led to many of the disparities and barriers to abortion care named in #DesignedToDeceive a report from the Women’s Law Project. One important point being that in Pennsylvania, the ratio of CPCs to abortion clinics is a staggering 9 to 1, meaning that the odds are literally stacked against access.

Yes, there are folks on the ground in Pennsylvania that are committed to supporting these families and abortion seekers. But as I named, how can they counter these attacks on access when #philanthropy isn’t investing in their work?

According to Candid data compiled and analyzed by NCRP, between 2014-2018 the sector has allocated only $13.7 million to reproductive rights issues in the state of Pennsylvania.

Which is crumbs in comparison to the sectors generous giving of about $67 Millions to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in those same years.

#Philanthropy cannot continue to expect those on the frontlines of abortion access to be sustained in this fight, when the systems and movements working against them have the dollar advantage by this much. Crisis/fake pregnancy centers that are lying about providing direct services have an advantage over abortion funds, that are providing actual direct and practical support to abortion seekers, as foundations only invested $2.8 million in PA abortion funds between 2014-2018.

$2.8 million over four years doesn’t secure access. Pennsylvania-based  Women’s Medical Fund reported in their 2019 needs assessment that at least 6,300 people in southeast PA must seek external financial support to pay for abortion care because of poverty & the Medicaid ban on abortion coverage

#Philanthropy needs to intentionally fund abortion with all things considered, including the work of anti-abortion groups in order to secure access and sustain those leading the work. 

Brandi Collins-Calhoun is NCRP’s Senior Movement Engagement Associate. Additional data compiled by NCRP’s Senior Associate for Movement Research, Stephanie Peng.