Could Liberals Raise a Billion Dollars a Year to Fund Abortions?

John Middlebrook/CSM via ZUMA

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Bear with me for a few moments while I outline a probably dumb idea. But the possibility that Roe v. Wade might soon be on the chopping block has nudged it back into my mind again. My question is: how many women would likely be affected if Roe were overturned? Here’s a really rough guess:

  • About 900,000 abortions are performed each year.
  • A back-of-the-envelope estimate suggests that about 40 percent are performed on women who live in states like California or New York where abortion rights would remain strong. Maybe 500,000 women in other states would be affected.
  • Of those, figure that maybe a third have incomes high enough that they aren’t seriously affected. So that leaves about 350,000 women.
  • How much would it cost to provide all of these women with a free abortion? That is, pick them up at home, drive to an airport, have them fly to Los Angeles or New York or wherever, get an abortion, and then fly them back home. Maybe $2,000? $3,000?
  • So the total cost for a year would be somewhere in the ballpark of a billion dollars.

If Roe were overturned, could an organization raise this kind of money? Mark Zuckerberg could do it all by himself. Ten gazillionaires could do it without even feeling it in their wallets. Are there ten liberal gazillionaires who’d be willing to do this? How much money could be raised from small-dollar donors? Etc.

I dunno. Maybe it’s just a dumb idea. A billion dollars a year is a lot of money, putting aside fantasies of Zuck funding it all by himself. But it’s a very concrete dumb idea. I wonder. Could liberals defang any reversal of Roe by simply ponying up enough money?

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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