The Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn Roe v. Wade one year ago sparked an explosion of funding to either protect or block abortion access from political groups, billionaires and the government—Forbes tallied where the money in this fierce battle has flowed as Americans’ support for abortion rights has broadly increased amid increasing bans and restrictions.
One of the biggest chunks of cash comes from the $198.5 million, at least, in new state government funding allocated to supporting reproductive healthcare, including abortion, in the year since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, according to the National Institute for Reproductive Health (based on funding in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New Jersey and Washington), along with $9.4 million in funding from local governments.
But conservative-led states outspent governments supporting abortion rights, putting at least $252.9 million on funding state alternatives to abortion programs since the Dobbs ruling, which directs money to anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers.”
Major PACs supporting abortion rights spent $81.4 million on state abortion ballot measures in 2022 (in Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky, California, Montana and Vermont)—including donations from billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Steven Spielberg—while approximately $32.8 million was spent by PACs opposing abortion rights on those ballot measure races, according to state campaign finance data.
Around $19.8 million was raised between June 24, 2022, and the first quarter of 2023 by abortion rights-related PACs affiliated with Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List and NARAL Pro-Choice America, according to data from the Federal Election Commission—the largest PACs dedicated to promoting abortion rights—and the PACs donated $2.2 million to candidates and political committees during that time.
Anti-abortion rights PACs by Susan B. Anthony List, National Right to Life and the National Pro-Life Alliance raised $2.1 million—though some donation numbers were not yet publicly reported for 2023—and donated $846,044.
Pro-abortion rights lobbying groups (primarily affiliated with Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and NARAL) spent $2.3 million on lobbying efforts between the second quarter of 2022, which included the time Roe was overturned, and the first quarter of 2023, as compared with $1.5 million by anti-abortion lobbying groups, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets.
Increased Abortion Costs: The proliferation of state-level abortion bans has led to increased costs for those seeking abortions, who seek help on travel costs; Melissa Fowler, chief program officer for the National Abortion Federation, told Forbes the organization is now spending $150,000 on travel costs per month—up from $30,000 after Texas outlawed abortion after six weeks in September 2021—and the organization’s spending on hotels, public transportation/flights and rideshares for patients increased by 195%, 235% and 403%, respectively.
Abortion Spending Is Up: The influx of donations has still not been enough to keep up with the increased demand for abortion funds’ help in covering abortion costs: Chelsea Williams-Diggs, executive director of the New York Abortion Access Fund, told reporters on a press call that the fund would run out of money by October at its current rate without additional investment, and the Brigid Alliance told Forbes that their donations are slowing, with revenue down by 152% in May 2023 as compared with the year before (the month when the Dobbs opinion was leaked).
Crisis Pregnancy Centers Still Out-Fundraising: Anti-abortion organizations contacted by Forbes largely did not provide data on their donations over the past year, but despite the influx of donations in support of abortion rights, crisis pregnancy centers—which have historically had a 5:1 funding advantage over pro-abortion rights organizations—likely “still have a major funding advantage” over abortion funds and clinics, Stephanie Peng, research manager at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), told Forbes.
Pro-abortion rights groups broadly out-fundraised the anti-abortion efforts when it came to political funding in the 2022 midterms and as the 2024 election cycle gets underway. They also out-spent anti-abortion campaigns when it comes to lobbying in Congress—though abortion rights lobbyists put more money into the quarter in which Roe was overturned, while anti-abortion lobbyists invested more after the ruling. Political spending was also heavily in favor of abortion access when it came to ballot measures carried out in six states, with PACs advocating for abortion rights outspending anti-abortion PACs in some states by 6:1.
- Planned Parenthood’s PACs led the proponents for abortion rights, raising $15.8 million between June 2022 and the first quarter of 2023.
- Women Vote and Women Speak Out, affiliated with Emily’s List, raised $3.5 million and NARAL’s PAC raised $511,773.
- The anti-abortion movement was bolstered by the National Right to Life Victory Fund raising $1.6 million, versus $487,737 raised by Susan B. Anthony List and $28,451 by the National Pro-Life Alliance.
- Pro-abortion rights lobbyists spent $924,353 in the second quarter of 2022—which included when Roe was overturned—before dropping to $233,125 in the third quarter of 2022 and $404,502 in the fourth.
- Anti-abortion rights lobbyists spent $320,000 in Q2 2022, and then slightly upped their spending to $380,000 in the third and fourth quarter, which included when Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a national abortion ban bill.
- In California and Michigan’s ballot measures, major PACs supporting abortion rights spent $17.1 million and $43.5 million, respectively—vastly outspending the $332,668 and $20 million that anti-abortion PACs poured into those races.
- In Vermont, too, $1.6 million was spent in support of abortion rights, versus $630,261 against it.
- While the political spending was closer in Kansas ($12 million in favor of abortion rights and $10 million spent opposing it), anti-abortion rights advocates invested very little in ballot measures in conservative-leaning Kentucky and Montana.
- Montana had no political spending from anti-abortion advocates on its ballot measure (versus $841,871 by abortion rights PACs), while abortion rights PACs spent over six times more than anti-abortion groups in Kentucky ($1 million to $6.3 million).
Financial support from billionaires who support abortion has dropped in the past 12 months—and is now outweighed by cash from billionaires who are against abortion.
- Steven Spielberg: The director, who Forbes estimates is worth $4 billion, donated $125,000 to Planned Parenthood Votes last October, according to FEC data, which seems to be his first donation to the organization. He also donated $25,000 in support of abortion rights for Kansas’ abortion ballot measure.
- Sheryl Sandberg: With an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion, Sandberg gave $3 million to the American Civil Liberties Union last October, which was specifically earmarked for the organization’s work on abortion rights. This was reportedly both the largest donation the former Facebook COO made to abortion rights and the largest the ACLU’s abortion rights efforts has received, and comes after Sanberg made two separate $1 million donations to Planned Parenthood in 2017 and 2019, respectively.
- Michael Bloomberg: The former New York City mayor, who Forbes estimates is worth $95.5 billion, gave $1 million to Planned Parenthood last October, after a $4 million donation he made a couple years prior. He also gave $2 million to Michigan’s abortion ballot measure and $1.25 million to Kansas’ abortion ballot measure, both in support of abortion rights.
- Dagmar Dolby: Dolby, who Forbes estimates to be worth $4.9 billion with her family, made a $200,000 to NARAL Freedom Fund last September, $100,000 short of the $300,000 donation she made to the organization one month prior to the Dobbs decision.
- Richard Uihlein: On the anti-abortion side, Uihlein, the CEO of shipping and packaging supplies company Uline, donated $40,000 to the Restoration of America’s political action committee PAC in December and, last October, gave them $5,858,814.00, according to data from the FEC. Forbes estimated his net worth is $3.5 billion.
- Jeff Yass: Yass, the co-founder of Susquehanna International Group whose net worth is an estimated $28.5 billion, made his most recent and highest donation of $2.5 million to the Protect Freedom PAC in September, FEC data shows. He donated $2 million to them just two months prior to the Dobbs decision.
The $198.5 million in new state funding has been focused in states that protect access to abortion, countering the millions spent in conservative-leaning states that have centered their funding on crisis pregnancy centers.
- $135 million was spent for various programs in California—such as creating a Reproductive Justice and Freedom Fund and a fund for abortion services for Californians below 400% of the Federal Poverty line—along with $10 million in New Mexico to set up a new abortion clinic.
- $15 million in New Jersey to bolster abortion clinics’ security and $1 million in emergency funding in Washington that was authorized when Roe was overturned.
- $18 million in Illinois’ state budget toward reproductive healthcare, including training and creating a hotline, and $19.5 million allocated through two bills in Massachusetts.
- States also spent about $4 million on stockpiling abortion medications when the legality of mifepristone was threatened in court, according to numbers compiled by Forbes from California, Massachusetts, Washington and Oregon.
- Government funding to protect abortion is up from only $53.5 million in state funding that was in place before the Dobbs ruling, according to the NIRH, and no similar investments were made at the state level prior to January 2022.
- Cities that NIRH found dedicated new funding to abortion are Fresno, California; Los Angeles; Atlanta; Chicago; Baltimore, Maryland; Hennepin County, Minnesota; Minneapolis, Minnesota; St. Louis, Missouri; New York City; Columbus, Ohio; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Philadelphia; Nashville; King County, Washington and Seattle.
- On the anti-abortion side, the states that invested millions into crisis pregnancy centers since the Dobbs ruling are Florida, Arkansas, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas, Missouri, Indiana, Louisiana and Iowa. In Tennessee, however, the state actually decreased its investment by $80 million over the year prior, to $178 million.
Pro-Abortion Rights Donations
Donations to abortion rights groups spiked in the immediate aftermath of the Dobbs ruling, groups have largely said.
- Left-wing donation platform ActBlue said they received $20.6 million the day of the ruling and the National Network of Abortion Funds raised more than $3 million that day alone, as reported by the New York Times, while income figures from the Yellowhammer Fund provided to Forbes show the group took in $1.9 million in the second quarter of 2022, up from only $440,000 in the first quarter.
- But donations have also continued since the ruling: the National Abortion Federation reported a 324% increase in monthly donations, ActBlue also reported a rise in monthly contributions through the platform, and the Yellowhammer Fund’s income remained above $1.1 million through the end of 2022.
- That’s enabled a significant increase in how much support funds can give: the Abortion Fund of Arizona told reporters it has been able to fill 851 requests in the past year versus 570 in the year before the ruling, and anticipates spending $312,000 by the end of 2023 as compared with $96,509 before Dobbs.
Anti-Abortion Rights Donations
The funding on anti-abortion rights groups is less clear, though they have reported an increase in funds.
- Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America provided information to Forbes showing its donations for the 2021-2022 election cycle were $72.7 million, which is up from $50.5 million between 2019 and 2020 and $28.2 million during the last midterm elections cycle in 2018. Indiana Right to Life—operating in a state that passed an abortion ban, but then saw it blocked in court—told Forbes its annual donations increased by 96% between 2019 and 2022, and the organization is “trending strong in 2023” and witnessing similar fundraising increases in its regional affiliates.
- Anti-abortion groups have historically been bolstered by the state and federal funding they receive, Forbes previously noted, while pro-abortion rights groups are more reliant on philanthropy and grassroots donations because the Hyde Amendment bans federal dollars from being used on abortion in most circumstances.
- Previous reviews of IRS data by the NCRP have found crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel women against abortion, earned revenue of more than $4 billion between 2015 and 2019, and have historically also received much higher levels of foundation support.
The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022, immediately setting off a cascade of state-level bans as the court declared there was no longer a federal right to an abortion. As of June 23, abortion is largely banned in 15 states, while six additional states have imposed bans that have since been at least temporarily blocked in court. Figures from national research project #WeCount estimate 24,290 fewer abortions took place between July 2022 and March 2023 than the national baseline before the Dobbs ruling. Polling shows Americans are largely in favor of abortion rights and the procedure being broadly legal, though support goes down for abortions further into a pregnancy, and the court ruling has been attributed as a factor behind Democratic wins in the 2022 midterms.
What We Don’t Know
The data that’s been publicly reported and provided to Forbes represents only a fraction of the total amount that’s been raised and spent on supporting and opposing abortion over the past year. Key organizations including Planned Parenthood, the National Network of Abortion Funds and NARAL told Forbes they do not yet have final donation data available through 2023 or did not respond to requests to provide it, and legal groups backing fights in state court over abortion rights—including the Center for Reproductive Rights, ACLU and the anti-abortion Alliance Defending Freedom—were unable to provide figures on the legal costs that have been put into that litigation. Political donations are also so far only publicly reported through the end of the first quarter of 2023, which ended March 31, and some campaign donation data from anti-abortion groups still hasn’t been reported yet for that quarter, making their figures incomplete.
100 Days Since Roe V. Wade Was Overturned: The 11 Biggest Consequences (Forbes)
How Americans Really Feel About Abortion: The Sometimes Surprising Poll Results As Court Ruling Threatens Mifepristone Access (Forbes)
MacKenzie Scott, Michael Bloomberg Among The Biggest Billionaire Donors To Abortion-Rights Groups (Forbes)
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