RIP Anne Nicol Gaylor, Badass Feminist and Atheist

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Sorta transcript:

On Monday, the world lost an amazing woman: Anne Nicol Gaylor, who co-founded the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Women’s Medical Fund. She was an outspoken feminist and atheist who believed that religion was one of the greatest forces keeping women oppressed and that access to abortion was a critical aspect of healthcare for women. She worked tirelessly on both of those issues, helping run Freedom from Religion Foundation until she was 78 years old, and personally writing checks for more than $3 million to help women get abortions.

Most of my viewers probably already know about Freedom from Religion Foundation, which is currently run by Anne’s daughter Annie Laurie Gaylor and Annie Laurie’s husband, Dan Barker. They’ve been pretty active in the legal world defending separation of church and state. For instance, under Anne Nicol’s leadership they overturned a Wisconsin law that made Good Friday a state holiday. I see where they were coming from on that one, but on a personal note when I worked in an office I was always surprised and annoyed that we didn’t get Good Friday off. I’m not a Christian, I just liked having paid days off work. For any reason.

Anne Nicol started the Women’s Medical Fund just a few years after Wisconsin legalized abortion, when she realized that despite the legality it was still out of reach for many women who just couldn’t afford the exorbitant costs. WMF was completely volunteer-run, and most of the heavy lifting was done by one volunteer: Anne Nicol Gaylor. It worked like this: if a woman needed an abortion but couldn’t afford one, her doctor would give her the number for WMF. The woman would call WMF, and the phone would be answered by Anne Nicol Gaylor, sitting in her living room. She would listen to the woman’s story, give her advice on how to proceed, and if the woman qualified, Gaylor would whip out a checkbook and write a check to the doctor or clinic to cover part or all of the abortion.

She answered thousands of calls and literally paid out millions of dollars just to make sure that women had access to basic healthcare. That’s what our government should be doing, but nearly 40 years after Gaylor started WMF, their services are still needed today.

That’s why I’m going to conclude this video by telling you that WMF is entirely funded by individual donors like you. If you’d like to make a donation in Gaylor’s name, head to wmfwisconsin.org. Here’s hoping that their good work continues until it’s no longer needed, and that it’s not needed for much longer.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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