Organization Trends

Activists Brought in $2.2 Billion for Pro-Abortion Policies in 2019

There’s no shortage of money for the pro-abortion Left.

New research by the Capital Research Center shows that pro-abortion groups spent nearly $1.9 billion in 2019 (see the data in the Appendix), money that advanced the Left’s century-old goal of establishing abortion-on-demand policies and taxpayer-funded abortions across the United States.

Billions for Population Control

Pro-abortion groups are among the best-funded organizations on the professional Left, with access to an almost unlimited money well from numerous mega-donors. Among them are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which together commanded a staggering $6.6 billion in total revenue in 2019 alone. These funders promulgate an unprecedented global war on the poor—particularly in Africa, Southeast Asia, and India—through population control schemes under the guise of “family planning,” a term I’ve traced back to its origins in the eugenics movement.

The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, funded by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, has poured at least $4 billion into pro-abortion advocacy since 2000 in the name of “philanthropy,” enough to pay for an estimated 8 million abortions. That funding supported U.S. groups that lobby for looser abortion laws in poor countries, as well as at least one group that conducts horrifying experiments with second trimester abortion drugs on women in Burkina Faso (GDP per capita: $786).

CRC examined the finances of 73 activist groups, think tanks, litigation nonprofits, and PACs that focus primarily on pro-abortion and population control policies. Using their publicly available Form 990 filings, we captured their revenues, expenditures, and the amounts of grants they paid out in 2019.

The findings are shocking. In a single year, these groups:

  • Received $2,217,469,527 in funds, most of it from anonymous donors.
  • Spent $1,883,900,435 paying staffers, attorneys, activists, professional fundraisers, and researchers and lobbying for environmental regulations. In the case of 501(c)(4) groups and PACs, they also helped elect Democrats and oppose Republicans in the 2019–2020 election cycle.
  • Paid out $730,915,558 in grants to other nonprofits and PACs.

Most, if not all, of these groups also support repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which broadly prohibits federal funding of abortions. They also championed President Joe Biden’s repeal of the Mexico City Policy (what leftists call the “Global Gag Rule”), which blocks federal funding of groups that provide abortion services overseas.

And these are conservative numbers. We intentionally limited our scope to only single-issue abortion groups and left out “dark money” groups that run pro-abortion campaigns as part of their larger left-wing activism, such as Arabella Advisors’ $731 million nonprofit network, to shine a light on the hard core of the pro-choice Left. Yet nearly every lobbying group on the Left supports expanded abortion access. If we included groups like Human Rights Campaign, the Center for American Progress, or the AFL-CIO, the figures would skyrocket.

Since a large portion of the 73 groups analyzed have not yet publicly released their Form 990 reports for 2019, we filled in the blanks with information from the prior year—meaning the true figures are almost certainly higher.

Funding Distribution

The tax status of these organizations sheds light on the distribution of funds within the pro-abortion camp. Of the 73 groups analyzed, 55 are 501(c)(3) public charities, so donations to them are tax-deductible. The 501(c)(3) nonprofits account for the overwhelming majority of the finances CRC traced:

  • Nearly 96 percent ($2.1 billion) of the $2.2 billion in total revenues uncovered.
  • 5 percent ($1.78 billion) of the $1.9 billion in total expenditures uncovered.
  • 8 percent ($693 million) of the $731 million in grants paid.

Another 11 are 501(c)(4) advocacy nonprofits, which can spend significantly more of their funds on lobbying than their 501(c)(3) counterparts. Political action committees (PACs) account for the remaining seven groups analyzed, most of which are associated with a pro-abortion nonprofit such as Planned Parenthood or NARAL Pro-Choice America. PACs and super PACs accounted for only $30.5 million of the total revenues and almost $33 million of total spending in the 2019–2020 election cycle, but it’s important to recall that PACs tend to be less single-issue than broadly partisan—almost all of those funds were spent helping elect Democrats and oppose Republicans.

The top spenders include:

  1. Planned Parenthood Federation of America and affiliates: $860 million
  2. Population Services International: $528 million
  3. Pathfinder International: $146 million
  4. Ipas: $68 million
  5. Marie Stopes International: $54 million
  6. NARAL Pro-Choice America and affiliates: $31 million
  7. Guttmacher Institute: $29 millionfemheal
  8. National Women’s Law Center: $20 million
  9. New Morning Foundation: $16 million
  10. Population Council: $16 million
  11. Population Connection (Zero Population Growth) and affiliates: $14 million
  12. Population Action International: $12 million
  13. Population Media Center: $10 million
  14. National Partnership for Women and Families: $9 million
  15. Foundation for Women: $8 million
  16. National Abortion Federation: $8 million
  17. National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association: $5 million
  18. Physicians for Reproductive Health: $5 million
  19. National Network of Abortion Funds: $5 million
  20. FemHealth USA: $4 million

For CRC’s groundbreaking research on the $2.4 billion the environmental Left spent in 2019, click here.


See the data here.

Figures also include 2018 expenditures (red font) for groups that did not publicly post their 2019 Form 990 filings as of writing to serve as estimates for 2019 data. This report will update the data set with exact 2019 figures as they become available.

Source: Form 990 filings through 2019, part I, lines 8, 12, 13; and Federal Elections Commission, 2019–2020 cycle PAC receipts, disbursements, contributions to other committees, independent expenditures (minus reimbursed donations).


Hayden Ludwig

Hayden Ludwig is the Director of Policy Research at Restoration of America. He was formerly Senior Investigative Researcher at Capital Research Center. Ludwig is a native of Orange County, California,…
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