Since our founding, the National Institute for Reproductive Health and the NIRH Action Fund have worked to expand access to reproductive health care, including abortion care, in communities across the country. Over the years, we’ve grown and evolved, but we’ve stayed true to our core mission of fighting for reproductive freedom, passing proactive policies, and advancing a positive vision of reproductive freedom.

It all began in New York in 1968, when we launched as a grassroots political, 501(c)4 organization with the mission of legalizing abortion in New York State. We were successful in making New York one of the very first states to do so in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade was decided. 

In 1980, out of that grassroots, state-based effort grew the origins of what is now a national organization, the National Institute for Reproductive Health and the NIRH Action Fund, dedicated to passing proactive legislation to safeguard access to reproductive health care in states and cities across the country. 

Since 1980, we’ve expanded our fight to new states and cities, helping others across the country push forward to protect and advance reproductive freedom. Today, NIRH is the only national group working hand-in-hand with partner organizations on the ground across the country, expanding reproductive freedom everywhere.

NIRH and NIRH Action Fund throughout the years

  • 1968: Predecessor to NIRH Action Fund is founded to legalize abortion in New York State
  • 1970: New York State becomes one of the first in the nation to legalize abortion
  • 1973: Roe v. Wade legalizes abortion in every state in the country
  • 1976: Congress passes the Hyde Amendment, withholding coverage for abortion services from women insured through the Medicaid program and other federal insurance programs. We vow to protect state Medicaid coverage for abortion
  • 1980: We incorporate the national non-profit advocacy organization that will become the National Institute for Reproductive Health, dedicated to passing proactive legislation to safeguard access to abortion care in states and cities across the country 
  • 1986: We join 100,000 activists in the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, DC, against the impending threat to abortion rights
  • 1990: We expand our mission from advancing access to abortion to promoting the full range of reproductive health and rights in cities and states across the country
  • 1992: We start the Teen Outreach Reproductive Challenge, a youth training initiative to educate and empower teens on issues of sexual and reproductive health, which still operates today as TORCH
  • 1994: We work with New York City Council to pass the NYC Clinic Access law, the strongest clinic access law in the city, which proves to be a model for other cities across the country
  • 1999: We release a study on the availability of emergency contraception in hospital emergency rooms, leading to passage of “EC in the ER” legislation
  • 2002: We pass the Women’s Health and Wellness Act, ensuring insurance coverage for birth control in New York State; we work with New York City to establish the Residency Training Initiative, a program to train medical residents at public hospital in abortion care
  • 2003: We pass a package of birth control legislation in nNew York City Council
  • 2008: We launch the How Much Time campaign, emphasizing in the run-up to the presidential election that that the consequence of overturning Roe v. Wade would be to criminalize women and doctors
  • 2009: We establish the Urban Initiative for Reproductive Health, to inspire and support cities to adopt policies to improve reproductive health outcomes
  • 2013: We launch an expanded program to partner with advocates in states across the country to pass proactive legislation that advances reproductive freedom
  • 2015: We create an affirmative message framework on abortion for the movement that builds support and respect for women’s ability to control their bodies, lives, and futures; w
  • 2016: We launch a new program to increase access to long-acting reversible contraception (like IUDs), eventually making positive policy changes  in ten states across the country
  • 2017: We launch the Local Reproductive Freedom Index, showcasing the reproductive health, rights, and justice policies of 40 cities across the United States, continuing the momentum of the Urban Initiative and inspiring local policy action in Atlanta, Austin, New York City, St. Louis and more
  • 2019: We lead the fight to pass the Reproductive Health Act in New York, establishing the fundamental right to abortion in New York State law. We then work with partners in other states to advance similar laws, and see a record nine states pass proactive laws protecting abortion access. The NIRH Action Fund works with partners in Virginia to train candidates and ultimately flip the statehouse to supportive of reproductive freedom
  • 2020: We work closely with partners in Virginia to pass the Reproductive Health Protection Act, which repeals medically unjustified restrictions on abortion access in the commonwealth.