The possible overturn of Roe v. Wade should surprise no one. Marginalized women have been sounding the alarm for decades

Updated 6:34 AM ET, Thu May 12, 2022

Pamela Shifman is President of the Democracy Alliance, and the founder of Shake the Table, a new organization bridging philanthropy with movements for racial, gender and economic justice. The views expressed in this commentary belong solely to the author. Read more from As Equals. For information about how the series is funded and more, check out our FAQs.

(CNN)The leaked draft ruling of the US Supreme Court to reverse Roe versus Wade -- the landmark 1973 judgment that ruled it unconstitutional to restrict the right to have an abortion -- was devastating but not surprising. Nor was the news on Wednesday that the Senate voted down a key bill that would have preserved abortion access across the US. Grassroots feminist organizations, especially those led by women of color, Indigenous women and other historically marginalized communities, have been warning us of this day for decades.

Soon after the news broke, Laurie Bertram Roberts of the Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based non-profit that offers support for women who have abortions, was quoted by NBC as saying: "We've been planning for this possibility for several years...This isn't a new threat, but it's a larger threat."
Despite their sizes, the organizations these individuals represented played outsized roles in protecting democracy and human rights for us all, yet their effectiveness -- and ability to safeguard the hard-earned wins -- has been limited by a dire shortage in funding.

"Too many of our communities in the US have been existing in a pre-Roe reality. With few clinics and ever mounting bans and restrictions, abortion access is still legal yet out of reach."

Paris Hatcher, Founder and Director of Black Feminist Future
A report analyzing existing data, and published in 2021 by the Association for Women's Rights in Development found that "99% of development aid and foundation grants still do not directly reach women's rights and feminist organizations" and "despite new funding commitments made, women's rights organizations receive only 0.13% of the total Official Development Assistance and 0.4% of all gender-related aid."
And yet, grassroots feminist groups -- organizations, leaders and networks working together to challenge and change power structures that reinforce gender inequality -- have been credited with helping to end the war in Liberia and bring progressives into government in Slovenia. Amongst other victories, they've also succeeded in widening access to legalized abortion in countries from Argentina to Ireland.
These organizations do the hard work of creating the conditions for, and accelerating, much-needed social change, and data analysis shows that women's rights organizations in the Global South that do this essential work operate on shoestring budgets averaging $30,000 a year.
On the other hand, according to a 2020 report by the Global Philanthropy Project, over a 10-year period, US organizations that oppose women's rights and those of LGBTQ+ communities, had an aggregate revenue of more than $6 billion. They spend their money in the US but also around the world, funding campaigns against our rights and supporting court cases.
The reversal of Roe versus Wade will be the culmination of decades-long attacks on abortion rights in the US. Feminist movements, especially led by Black women, and especially in the US South, have also been on the frontlines of responding to attacks that have included eroding reproductive rights at the state level and dangerous so-called 'abortion reversal' methods.
Supporters of Planned Parenthood dressed as characters from "The Handmaid's Tale," at a rally outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, June 27, 2017.