Overturning Roe v. Wade and nonprofits

On Friday, June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)’s 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson overturned the precedents set by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, ending the federal right to abortion after nearly 50 years of protections. Individual states now have the power to govern abortion rights and access.

While abortion is still legal in Minnesota, having been codified in the state constitution in 1995, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin all have trigger laws in place that immediately restricted or outright banned abortion. In addition, many SCOTUS decisions that are the foundation of modern civil rights, including marriage equality, the right to contraception, and interracial marriage, are rooted in the same right to individual privacy that was critical to Roe. (Citation: Harvard Kennedy School.) While there are no immediate actions to overturn those precedents, very real concerns of future challenges remain.

For some, the personal and ideological impact of the ruling may not yet be clear. However, the impact on many community-serving organizations is: The SCOTUS ruling creates more disparities for nonprofits to combat.

Data shows that laws that ban abortions lead to poorer health outcomes and reduced socio-economic opportunities for people of color and LGBTQIA+ communities. People without financial, housing, food, and healthcare security; people living in rural communities without access to services or reliable transportation; people with disabilities; and people more likely to experience reproductive and partner violence will all bear the biggest burden and face otherwise preventable illnesses and death. (Citations: Guttmacher Institute, World Health Organization.)

Over the last two-plus years, nonprofits have seen demand for services spike and have faced seemingly perpetual changes to meet high community needs. Staff and resources are already stretched thin as nonprofits navigate continuous operational disruptions, redesign programming, experience challenges to recruit and retain staff, all while receiving inadequate and/or restricted funding. (Citation: MCN’s Nonprofit COVID Impact Report, December 2021.)

Minnesota nonprofits providing health and family services, legal representation and advocacy, child care, mental health support, and more are already seeing, and will continue to see, an influx in demand that exacerbates the high pressures nonprofits face.

As 14 percent of the state’s economy, nonprofits provide essential community services that tackle some of society’s greatest challenges. This decision and its impact on the communities nonprofits serve will only stretch the sector further. Minnesota communities will suffer as a result of the overburdened nonprofit sector.

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) was founded to amplify and harness the collective power of nonprofits toward a healthy, cooperative, and just society. Reproductive rights are intermingled with the socioeconomic, health, and quality of life outcomes for Minnesotans; a just society must include autonomy over one’s privacy and reproductive rights. 

For nonprofits, supporters, and community members, in addition to supporting and listening directly to the nonprofits who are experts in this space, consider how you can participate in civic and community efforts to mitigate the impact of this SCOTUS decision in Minnesota, including:


  • As employers, nonprofits will be impacted as they continue to struggle offering not just competitive salary, but reliable and affordable healthcare for workers. Nonprofit employers reviewing their medical plans and paid time off they offer employees can mitigate harm, especially for part-time and hourly workers. Additionally, a review of the organization’s policies can also ensure they are inclusive of everyone’s identities.

    Related reading
    : “Roe v. Wade Overturned: Employer Considerations” via ADP.

  • In Minnesota, the right to abortion is codified in our state constitution (1995, Doe vs. Gomez), but as the U.S. Supreme Court ruling shows, we cannot take court precedent as unchangeable when essential rights are at stake. Voting and engaging in advocacy is one of the best ways for communities to claim power and advocate for a future they want. November 2022 will be a busy time in Minnesota with the mid-term election. All Minnesotans will have these races on their ballots: All eight Minnesota U.S. Representative Seats, Governor and Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor, Attorney General, Judicial Seats, and 201 seats in the Minnesota Legislature. Nonprofits have a role and are legally able to engage in nonpartisan advocacy work. Start planning how you can engage your community to increase voting access and democracy participation.

    Related resource
    : “5 Ways Nonprofits Can Respond to Dobbs v. Jackson” via Bounder Advocacy.
    Related resource
    : “Nonprofits and Elections” via MCN.

  • Donate to reproductive rights organizations, providers, advocacy groups, and nonprofits. Minnesota has already become a safe haven for pregnant people seeking care. Minnesota needs strong community healthcare and nonprofit support to meet this demand and to fight for expanded abortion rights.

    Related reading
    : “Here’s How Philanthropy Can Protect Access to Abortion in a Post ‘Roe vs. Wade’ World” via The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
    Related resource
    : The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics helps people find free and charitable health care clinics based on city and ZIP code.

  • Ditch gendered language. Trans, non-binary, intersex, and Two Spirit people can become pregnant. It costs us nothing to include everyone.

    Related reading
    : “Why We Use Inclusive Language to Talk About Abortion” via ACLU.

  • Support and advocate for the expansion of social systems in Minnesota that will become more burdened, including paid family medical leave, living wages, affordable child care, and better benefits for nonprofit workers.

    Related webinar
    : “Paid Family and Medical Leave – Why, What, and How?” via Minnesotans for Paid Family Leave.