The Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts was created in 1988, fifteen years after the Supreme Court legalized abortion in its 1973 decision on Roe vs Wade. Three years later, however, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, prohibiting any use of federal funds, including Medicare and Medicaid, to pay for abortions. Soon after the amendment went into effect, women who would go on to build the Fund raised money for two women's abortions, one paid for by a woman's group of friends and another by an anonymous donor. This success led them to "pass it on"-- to keep up the momentum by finding ways for other people to access their legal rights. Political activists, nurses and therapists, and Western Massachusetts college students and faculty worked together to put the Fund into action.
We started small--"kitchen-table style"--with one volunteer to answer the phone and a second volunteer to keep track of our finances. We have grown steadily since then. We now assist over three hundred and fifty women a year, thanks to generous local donors, a governing board that keeps an eye on political changes and strategizes about how to promote or resist them, and especially the twenty-five multi-generational volunteers, from twenty to seventy years of age, who answer our phone and work with our clients to pay the ever-increasing cost of abortions. We also work with other grassroots organizations to keep the public informed about the need for affordable health care and to expand reproductive justice throughout the United States.