The Mother of the Largest National Independent Abortion Fund

Joyce Schorr (left) with Jane Fonda. (Ed Krieger)

This Mother’s Day, when we talk about bold, intelligent, tough and proactive women leaders, we must talk about Joyce Schorr, founder and president of the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP).

For many of us, life events impact and even change the trajectory of what is important to us and where are true passion lies.  Schorr is no different.  

Having realized the horrors of illegal abortions in 1969 when her best friend was forced to undergo an illegal procedure, she knew something must be done.

That is why in 1991 after years of tirelessly advocating for reproductive justice, Schorr pitched the idea of a national independent fund for poor women who were unable to pay for safe and legal abortions. 

If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.

“Watching a woman go through an illegal abortion was so overpowering, it propelled me to work on making sure it would one day be legal,” said Schorr. “That was my first step. My second step was to make sure they could pay for it. WRRAP was born.”

As the largest national independent abortion fund, WRRAP has proudly helped thousands of people, funding millions by working with a network of over 700 clinics and doctors. 

This past year alone, thanks to WRRAP, over 2,200 people received close to $463,000 in funding for surgical and/or medical abortions. And of them, over 63 percent were women of color.  

This year, we project to give out more funding based on barriers to access preventing time sensitive care. And because we are national, we don’t face the restrictions many funds have to provide funding only in their state or county.  

Schorr’s best friend’s story is no different than the countless individuals who had to resort to illegal procedures at that time.  And now sadly, we face this issue again with restrictions on abortion as an essential and time sensitive service. 

Further restrictions and funding for abortion access with the global health crisis has only magnified the inequalities that exist and has taken its toll on the most vulnerable people and is doing the most harm.  This domino effect also affects clinics and doctors who provide reproductive health care.

Let us not forget stories like this:

“I heard about a Latina woman in the Bronx who performed abortions.  I collected all my change from everywhere I could and ended up with about $60 in pennies and nickels.  She was extremely upset that I had brought her a small suitcase full of change.  She almost turned me away but I begged her to let me stay.  She brought in a big pot of boiling hot water and Ivory soap and a coat hanger.  I took off my clothes from the waist down. She proceeded to insert the hanger into my vagina trying to get it through my cervix. She poked for three hours.  I was bleeding and bleeding and the abortion was a failure.”

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, we must celebrate all the maternal figures in our life who are in this fight for our human rights.  Each of us and all of us must stand together to invest in sexual reproductive health.  After all, over 78 percent of the people we help have had their partner abandon them, leaving the entire cost up to the person seeking an abortion.  

For over 29 years, WRRAP has depended on donations—and nearly 90 percent of the funding raised by WRRAP goes to funding procedures. 

To donate, visit


Sylvia Ghazarian is the executive director of WRRAP, the Women's Reproductive Rights Assistance Project, a nonprofit abortion fund that provides urgently-needed financial assistance on a national level to those seeking abortion or emergency contraception. She is an active council member on the California Future of Abortion Council and past chair of The Commission on the Status of Women.