30 Years of Funding Abortion & One Day of A Name to Match
After Emily Rutherford, one of our founders & our first Executive Director, helped pay for her friend’s abortion, she wondered how many others wouldn’t be able to afford their abortion—or even knew that they had a right to one. Emily envisioned a community group that would help people afford abortion through a network of community care. By mid-1992, Emily and her group of incredible, determined women in Granville, Ohio, officially founded Women Have Options. Within a year, Women Have Options (often called WHO/O) would band together with 21 other early abortion funds from 14 states to found the National Network of Abortion Funds.
WHO/O—much like most abortion funds—was entirely volunteer-based for much of its history. Only in 2016, after growing need in Ohio & access to substantive foundation funding, did WHO/O bring on its first full-time staff member. Since then, we’ve grown exponentially, with four full-time staff members at present and two more to be hired soon. Our growth has tied in with numerous, radical shifts since our founding in 1992, but our core mission is much the same: to fight for economic and reproductive liberation, making abortion accessible to all people.
Now, on our 30th anniversary, in recognition of our founders’ vision to provide their communities with safe, affordable access to abortion, we are updating our name to align with our values and the tenets of Reproductive Justice as outlined by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color leaders, SisterSong.
We know that our legacy name, Women Have Options, has played a role in the erasure and silencing of transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming Ohioans. Language has significant power, and simply put: women are not the only people needing abortions. Women are not the only folks needing practical support & financial assistance to access abortions. To our transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming communities—we are deeply sorry for the harm we caused & perpetuated. We are forever proud to be among and alongside our gender-oppressed siblings.
To all our comrades who have gracefully (and angrily, and sadly) called us in to examine our name—thank you. We hope we can use this platform to routinely call-in others who use exclusionary and inaccurate language, showing folks that our fight for bodily autonomy & liberation is one of all gender-oppressed people, not just women.
In the months since our leadership transition, we have worked tirelessly to realign our name with our deeply held values. We are proud to announce that we are now the Abortion Fund of Ohio (AFO).
Over the coming weeks, mentions of WHO/O will turn into AFO, and we hope that you will help us spread the word about our new name!
Abortion Fund of Ohio (AFO)