Established in 1977 by pro-choice activist Frances Kissling, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) describes itself as “the professional association of abortion providers in North America.” Opposing any restrictions on abortion at either the state or federal levels, this Federation professes to offer “quality training and services to abortion providers, and unbiased information and referral services to women.”
An issue of particular concern to NAF is that “women of color, low-income women, and immigrant populations face unique obstacles” when seeking abortions, including “discrimination, language barriers, and socioeconomic factors.” Complaining that such women commonly encounter “overt and subconscious discrimination by providers” when attempting “to obtain any type of health care,” NAF has held “cultural competency” seminars to teach abortion providers and activists how to properly address “the concerns and specific needs” of nonwhite, poor, and foreign-born women.
NAF opposes pro-life legislators who “have passed state laws that have drastically diminished access to abortion.” These laws include parental consent or notification requirements, which, according to NAF, “can violate the privacy of young women by forcing them to involve their parents in their decisions”; mandatory waiting periods requiring women to wait for up to 24 hours between a state-mandated counseling appointment and their abortion; and “biased counseling laws” compelling abortion-clinic personnel to "lead their patients through detailed, state-mandated 'scripts'" that "promote childbearing" and are "designed to frighten and dissuade women from having abortions."
NAF further laments that in America, there is a shortage of doctors who are capable of performing abortions. “More still needs to be done in requiring ob-gyn residency programs to offer abortion training,” says the Federation.
Noting that “many women still cannot afford an abortion,” NAF advocates access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand for all women. In this vein, the Federation strongly opposes the so-called Hyde Amendment, which denies federal Medicaid funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or endangerment to the mother's life. According to NAF, the Hyde Amendment "marginalizes and stigmatizes abortion," and thereby "denies low-income women basic reproductive health care." NAF likewise objects to state-level laws “restricting financial help to women who need abortions.” â€¨
NAF has also sought to recruit a base of up-and-coming medical professionals to take up the cause of abortion rights. Toward that end, in 1993 the Federation spun off the group Medical Students for Choice, a network of thousands of young activists who seek “to persuade medical schools to include abortion as a part of the reproductive health services curriculum.” In 1997 NAF launched three additional groups—Midwives for Choice, Nurse Practitioners for Choice, and Physician Assistant for Choice—to further amplify its demands for increased access to abortion. These three organizations are now united under the umbrella group Clinicians for Choice.
When President George W. Bush in 2003 signed a law banning the practice of intact dilation and evacuation, commonly referred to as “partial-birth abortion,” NAF filed a lawsuit in a bid to invalidate that “deceptive ... and unconstitutional bill that would jeopardize the lives and health of American women.” The law's explicit exception for cases where the mother's life was endangered by the pregnancy, was insufficient to satisfy NAF.
NAF likewise opposed the 2004 passage of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which made it an added criminal offense for someone to injure or kill a fetus while carrying out a crime against a pregnant woman. The Federation's objection stemmed from the law's implication that fetuses are human beings, a premise with the potential to threaten arguments in favor of unrestricted abortion-on-demand.
From 2001-2004, NAF, with funding from George Soros's Open Society Institute, conducted a series of trainings (in a method known as “manual vacuum aspiration”) for abortionists in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Republics of the former Soviet Union.
To advance its abortion-related agendas, NAF disseminates what it describes as “accurate, unbiased, and evidence-based information” via fact sheets, email newsletters, CD-ROMs, patient education guides, curricular resources, videos, and textbooks. It also administers a national, toll-free, bilingual telephone hotline for women in need of abortion-related services.
NAF currently more than 400 facilities in 47 U.S. states and 8 Canadian provinces. Vicki Saporta has been its president since 1995.