For Immediate Release: July 29, 2021

Are Independent Abortion Clinics
the Frontlines of the Fight for Health Equity?

A new “roadmap” from NCRP uses data, direct experience from patients and providers
to show how reproductive access is a linchpin for public health, racial equity and economic equality. 

Washington, D.C. – In the national debate over the potential reversal of Roe vs. Wade by a conservative Supreme Court, a fundamental question has been largely ignored by the press, policymakers and philanthropists:  Are people who need abortions actually able to access them?

Funding the Frontlines: A Roadmap to Supporting Health Equity Through Abortion Access released today by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) makes a compelling case for answering that question with a resounding no. Highlighting first-hand accounts, research data and briefs compiled in partnership with providers and patients, the group and its allies are calling on the philanthropic sector to step up to the fights faced on-the-ground, not just in the hallowed halls of Washington.

“In communities across America, people of color live – and die – with the devastating consequences of deeply inequitable healthcare,” said The Libra Foundation Executive Director and NCRP Board Member Crystal Hayling. “It’s time for action, not more empty political debates.  Grantmakers concerned with women’s issues must understand that policy doesn’t mean much without practitioners.”

Data & Storytelling Tools Urge Philanthropy to do More 

The roadmap is divided into four sections, each of which focuses on different aspects of how access is created and denied across the country and the impact this has on the lives of pregnant people seeking abortion care. Section one, released today, highlights independent abortion clinics as frontline providers and advocates by educating the public on what these clinics do and laying out the geographic, economic and social barriers patients face to simply get to the clinic door.

Angel, an abortion storyteller with the group We Testify, lays out the scenario she faced as a young mother seeking an abortion:

“I don’t know how I’m going to go through with it because I live in Amarillo, and I was going to Albuquerque…a four-hour drive. And having two kids at the time, not knowing who I would have watch my kids without anyone knowing where I was going and without missing too much work..and then having the cost of the procedure, I just knew I couldn’t afford that.”

Angel found support through abortion funds and clinics that helped defray costs. But many are not so lucky.  Widespread denial of abortion access harms BIPOC and poor communities first and worst – making it a health equity issue, not solely a matter of legal rights.  Over 60% of people seeking abortions identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander and 75% are low-income.  89% of U.S. counties have no abortion providers at all, and even geographic proximity doesn’t guarantee access in a world where people are forced to choose between healthcare, rent or food.

This lack of access has far-ranging implications for the well-being of the entire community: People denied abortions face four times the odds that both the parent and the child will live below the federal poverty line. Yet the issue is rarely front of mind for funders working on racial justice, economic equality or community health.

It was shocking to us how the philanthropic sector has largely ignored a critical intervention site for outcomes core to the mission of many funders working on health equity, racial justice and economic equality,” said Brandi Collins Calhoun, Senior Movement Engagement Associate for NCRP. “We hope this roadmap provides food for thought, ideas for action and new commitments to abortion providers and patients on-the-ground.”

Subsequent sections of the roadmap exploring how stigma and discrimination deny access to transgender and gender expansive patients, the role of abortion funds in supporting patients and how “crisis pregnancy centers” undermine community access and health will be released in the coming months.

About NCRP  
For more than 45 years, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy has been amplifying the voice of nonprofits and the communities they serve in the philanthropic sector. We work to push for a sector that serves the public good, is responsive to people with the least wealth and opportunity, and accountable to the highest standards of integrity and openness. Through research and advocacy, it works to ensure that grantmakers and donors contribute to the creation of a fair, just and equitable world. For more information, visit  This roadmap is part of NCRP’s Movement Investment Project, an initiative that partners with non-profit organizations to inform and advocate for greater philanthropic investment in and allyship with social justice movements.


Elbert Garcia, egarcia[at] or (202) 847-2913