Millions of dollars from the fortune of legendary investor Warren Buffett are going to pay for abortions, according to documents from Buffett’s charitable organization and abortion-providing groups.
Buffet, whose preternatural investing success has made him the fourth richest person in the world, is often described as folksy. But the Sage of Omaha is also a longtime population-control buff, and his foundation pours tens of millions of dollars into abortion-funding work every year. In 2011, his foundation gave more than $115 million to pro-choice groups, with a large portion of that going to groups that fund abortions rather than merely doing education or advocacy.
Here’s how: The Buffett Foundation — renamed the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (STBF) in 2004 after Buffett’s wife’s death — exists as a medium for the investor’s charitable giving.
The foundation is remarkably opaque — “a case study in non-transparency,” writes David Callahan for Inside Philanthropy. The foundation’s most recent IRS Form 990 is from 2011. Writes Callahan:
[I]t’s super hard to even figure out who’s doing the grantmaking. Which is crazy, because putting aside medical foundations that assist patients, STBF ranked number five in total giving in 2012, shelling out $367.1 million in 2012. That total put it well ahead of such brand name biggies as Robert Wood Johnson, Kellogg, OSF, Mellon, and Packard.
For most grantseekers, trying to penetrate this place is like being a tourist asking around for the Mafia in Little Italy. The website is a laughable dead end, focusing only [on] STBF’s education giving while omitting huge key funding areas, and STBF’s 990s lag maddeningly behind by a few years. If you try calling the foundation, you get a message saying that nobody is there and that they don’t accept proposals, have funding guidelines, or publish an annual report (but at least you can leave a message!).
Nevertheless, it’s clear the foundation pours millions into pro-choice organizations, with a special focus on funding for abortions. In addition to funding general women’s health organizations and some political groups, Buffett gives generously to organizations that use their funds specifically to help women pay for abortions.
For instance, STBF gave more than $21 million in 2010 to the National Abortion Federation Hotline Fund. That organization’s 990 says its mission is “to ensure that women have the information and resources they need to access quality abortion care.” It also “provides case management services to women with special needs and limited financial assistance to subsidize care for low-income women,” per its 990 from 2012 (the latest year accessible).
In 2012, the NAF Hotline’s annual revenue was a little more than $26 million, per GuideStar. In other words, Buffett’s foundation made a donation almost the size of an entire year’s revenue to one of the country’s more prominent national abortion funds.
The Buffett Foundation’s 990 for 2012 wasn’t available. But in 2011, it gave or pledged more than $40 million to Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions as part of its range of services. It gave more than $1 million to the Abortion Access Project and many other pro-abortion groups.
Buffett’s foundation has also helped organizations seeking to increase abortion access overseas. STBF gave $16 million DKT International, which works to expand abortion access in India, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and other countries. DKT’s website says it “provided 1.2 million safe abortion doses” in 2013.
Gynuity Health Projects, which received more than $9.4 million from the Buffett Foundation from 2009 to 2011, works to expand abortion access in developing countries. Its website discusses its efforts to lower the cost of medical abortions and “to help support introduction of this promising new technology [mifepristone, an abortifacient].”
And in 2011, Buffett also gave $750,000 to the National Network of Abortion Funds, which supports state and local abortion funds.
That’s a tiny slice of the support Buffett directs to organizations seeking to make abortion cheaper, more accessible, and less politically toxic. Buffett is consistently mum on abortion issues; he doesn’t put his mouth where his money is. But a look at his charitable giving suggests the pro-abortion movement has no better ally than the beloved Cornhusker billionaire.
— Betsy Woodruff is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.