Ensuring that everyone can access resources and care to live healthy, self-determined lives should be a core pillar of philanthropic work. Yet too often, we end up throwing money at a fractured and incomplete system of care, which won’t make the thing we’re trying to solve any more solved. The best way for philanthropy to show up going forward is to make trust-based, long-term investments into the systems of care that have long excluded marginalized communities and to ensure that those most impacted by reproductive oppression are the ones making the decisions. Without either of those elements, we won’t succeed.

As a funder helping to lead efforts to preserve and expand access to abortion care in a battleground state, we have a monumental responsibility to model a path forward. In short, if our aim is to rebuild universal abortion access, it’s essential that we all commit to being led by those most impacted.

Invest in the Agency and Power of Those Most Impacted by Reproductive Oppression

People affected by poverty, people of color, immigrants, folks who are two-spirit and LGBTQ+, and people who live in tribal and rural communities have struggled to access abortion care long before this Supreme Court decision came down. While philanthropy has provided significant funding for policy, advocacy, and litigation, data shows that philanthropists have room to grow our investments to support equitable access to abortion care.

Barriers to Abortion Persist All Throughout Our Nation

Barriers to health care coverage and the failure of insurance providers to pay for abortion even when required by law is a product of our nation’s history of sexism, racism, and discrimination. Abortion deserts, too, persist even in states where access is legally protected. The added costs of traveling hundreds of miles away from home, securing a safe place to stay, and covering child care, mean services are unaffordable and out of reach to millions of Americans who aren’t in states with post-Dobbs bans.

A right is not a right if you can’t access it.

Long-term Investments Are Needed in States Where Abortion Is Legal and Protected

As the abortion landscape becomes even more fragmented and polarized, it’s up to states with strong protections in place to be responsive and scale up access to services that people deserve. They are officially the frontlines of abortion care. Abortion providers are already seeing an increase in demand from patients traveling from restrictive states—further proof that overturning Roe will not end abortions, it will simply shift where they are happening.

But our health care systems were never designed to meet the needs of those most impacted by health inequities (otherwise there wouldn’t be inequities), let alone support half the people in our nation who are being denied the care they need.

Long-term investments are needed in states where abortion is legal and protected—investments in health care infrastructure and workforce; in community-led research; in community-based advocacy and education; and in continued support for abortion funds and other patient needs—to both address urgent needs and to reimagine and redesign reproductive health care systems. How we get there is inextricably linked to our ability to achieve this vision.

Read the full article about funding abortion access by Se-ah-dom Edmo at Stanford Social Innovation Review.