MacKenzie Scott continues to show the world that she’s a better person than her billionaire ex-husband, the vibrator spaceship passenger and soulless ghoul Jeff Bezos. Scott has signed the Giving Pledge to donate the majority of her wealth to charity, while her ex has not. Today, the philanthropist we like better than her ex made a $15 million donation to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit founded in 1968 that publishes research and analyses on reproductive health and rights and advocates for evidence-based policy change.
Scott’s unrestricted gift is the largest ever from a single donor and comes months before the Supreme Court is expected to drastically weaken or outright overturn its landmark abortion ruling, Roe v. Wade. That decision will come in a case about a 15-week abortion ban that’s currently blocked in Mississippi, as well as in Louisiana, with more states trying to copy it and even framing it as a “generous” compromise to the six-week ban currently in effect in Texas.
Guttmacher Institute President and CEO, Herminia Palacio, MD, MPH, said in a statement: “We receive this support with a sobering sense of responsibility. The issues at hand are pressing and urgent, and this transformative gift will accelerate our ability to make important contributions to the field from our position as an action-oriented think tank.” Every organization has its problems but it bears mentioning that, in December 2021, Prism published an investigation into what current and former Guttmacher employees said was a toxic work culture where management policies pushed out staffers of color.
Donating to a reproductive rights think tank is very nice and good, but we must note that it would be even better for billionaires like Scott or Melinda Gates or Kim Kardashian to donate to direct service organizations like abortion funds. (Of course, the very best thing would be to appropriately tax these obscenely wealthy people so we have universal healthcare that covers abortion, but I digress.)
Even with Roe on the books, people have struggled to access abortion for decades, starting with the racist Hyde Amendment in 1976 that barred federal insurance from covering the procedure, and worsening with clinic shutdown laws and unnecessary waiting periods that have exploded since 2010.
Abortion funds help people pay for their care and related costs, like travel and childcare—in other words, they take a legal right and help make it accessible. Their work will be even more crucial when the Supreme Court allows abortion bans at 15 weeks or earlier to go into effect. But these local abortion funds get a fraction of the donations that national groups do. Per a January 2021 report, of the money philanthropic foundations donated reproductive rights, just 20 percent went to abortion specifically and a mere 3 percent went to abortion funds.
Here’s a list of abortion funds across the United States. And here’s another list—from Guttmacher no less—of the 26 states that are certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe is weakened. MacKenzie, I’m sure you have someone on payroll who could easily make a spreadsheet that cross-references the two lists, and you’d be a legend if you funded these groups.