Anne Nicol Gaylor, Feminist, Activist, and Freethinker, 1926–2015

Nicole Scott

Anne Nicol Gaylor, the principal founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), died at the age of eighty-eight in Wisconsin on June 14.

Gaylor received a degree in English in 1949 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She owned several businesses with her husband before beginning her lifelong career as an abortion-rights activist with a 1967 editorial in The Middleton Times-Tribune proposing legalized abortions. She penned her book, Abortion Is a Blessing, in 1975, and led many legal and political battles in support of abortion rights. Gaylor cofounded the Women’s Medical Fund Inc. in the mid-1970s, a charitable organization that continues to provide financial resources to women who could not otherwise legally obtain an abortion. She volunteered with the organization for over forty years, helping more than twenty thousand women.

In 1976, she founded the FFRF with her daughter, Anne Laurie, because they saw a need for a separation of church and state watchdog group. They took the organization national in 1978. Anne Gaylor served as executive director until 2004. FFRF is now led by Annie Laurie and her husband, Dan Barker.

The Center for Inquiry extends its sincerest condolences to the family of Anne Nicol Gaylor and thanks her for her contributions to the abortion-rights movement and the freethought community.

—Nicole Scott, Free Inquiry Assistant Editor

Nicole Scott

Nicole Scott is the managing editor of Free Inquiry.


Anne Nicol Gaylor, the principal founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), died at the age of eighty-eight in Wisconsin on June 14.

This article is available to subscribers only.
Subscribe now or log in to read this article.