In this article:
- Abortion is still legal but the recent news about the Supreme Court’s plan to overturn Roe v. Wade has many (rightfully) worried that access to this important right could disappear for millions of people.
- But abortion access is already severely restricted for approximately 40 million people who live in abortion-hostile states.
- For people in those states wondering how much is an abortion and whether it’s even an option, there are still resources available to help you get access to the care you need.
- There are also lots of ways you can support the cause and fight for better protection of this important human right.
First thing’s first: Abortion is still legal in all 50 states in the United States. The draft opinion from the Supreme Court that leaked is not official and, even if the final draft rolls back Roe v. Wade, that wouldn’t make abortion illegal at the federal level.
The risk is that people in 26 states could see their right to abortion vanish immediately after that final draft comes out.
Nine states have pre-Roe abortion bans on the books that could immediately go back into effect after the Supreme Court decision. 13 states have “trigger” bans in place that would automatically kick in the second Roe v. Wade is overturned. Another four states don’t have laws or trigger bans in place yet but are likely to move swiftly toward a complete ban after the decision.
Beyond those states likely to see total abortion bans, other states are poised to enforce near-total bans — like the six-week restriction in Texas that brought the issue to the Court — that would effectively make abortion impossible, if not illegal.
Even as we panic about the sweeping abortion bans that could come into effect, the reality is that 40 million people (or 58% of people who can become pregnant) already struggle to exercise reproductive rights even though it is still very much legal.
Draconian laws like parental consent, mandatory anti-abortion lectures, waiting periods, and restrictions on insurance coverage in these abortion-hostile states have made actually getting an abortion expensive, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous.
So how much is an abortion? The true cost can be much higher than the cost of the procedure itself. Here’s a breakdown of what it costs, depending on whether you live in a pro-choice or anti-choice state.
How Much Is an Abortion in Pro-Choice States?
To estimate how much is an abortion in a pro-choice state, we’ll use California as an example. With over 400 providers across the state, approximately 97% of the roughly 8 million people who can become pregnant in the state live in a county with access to abortion.
There is no strict cut-off date when abortions are no longer permitted in the state — though a fetus that’s developed enough to live outside the womb can’t be aborted unless the pregnant person’s life is at risk.
No waiting periods, parental consent, or mandatory lectures are required before the person can access this basic healthcare service.
In fact, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, California Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed to use part of the state’s $31 billion budget surplus to make California a “sanctuary state” for patients from states where abortions are banned. The proposal includes:
- Exploring ways to offer medication abortion services via telehealth to patients in other states
- Fund direct practical support to help cover the cost of transport, lodging, childcare, food, and lost wages resulting from needing to travel from an abortion-hostile state
- Expand clinics and infrastructure for abortion providers
- Eliminate out-of-pocket costs for abortion-related services and improve Medi-Cal reimbursement rates
How Much Is an Abortion in California?
With the abundance of providers and without mandatory waiting periods, people seeking abortions in the state don’t typically have to travel long distances or pay for overnight lodging in order to get to their appointment. So the only significant cost is that of the abortion itself.
For those who meet the requirements for Medi-Cal, the state-run Medicaid program, there are no out-of-pocket costs at all. That no-cost option could soon be expanded to everyone if state lawmakers approve a bill that would eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for private insurance as well.
Until then, for the majority of Californians who are privately insured, the average cost of a medical abortion (via pill) is $306 out-of-pocket while a surgical abortion runs $887.
For the 8.6% of Californians who can become pregnant who are uninsured, an abortion costs between $655 (for medical) and $940 (for surgical) on average.
While that’s more affordable than a state where patients have to pile on the costs of transport and lodging, it’s still too expensive for a state where roughly 65% of the population has less than $1,000 in savings.
When a person doesn’t have the cash on hand to cover the $306-$940 tab for an abortion, they may end up needing to take out a personal loan or, if their credit score isn’t high enough, a payday loan.
Interest rates on these loans can range from 3% to over 460%, bringing the total cost well into the thousands.
How Much Is an Abortion in Anti-Choice States?
On the other end of the spectrum, you have states like Missouri. The state has just four abortion providers total, serving a population of over 3 million people who can become pregnant.
With so few providers, a whopping 94% of those 3 million people live in a county without any abortion provider at all.
Among the state laws that make abortion access so abysmally limited are:
- Mandatory 72-hour waiting period after the initial consultation (which must be in person)
- Mandatory lecture, containing medically inaccurate information, from the abortion provider before the procedure can be performed
- Coverage ban making it illegal for private and state-provided insurance policies to include abortion coverage
- Minors must get a parent’s written consent to receive an abortion — and written notice must be provided to any other legal guardian of the minor. There are no exceptions to this law for rape or incest.
Additional restrictions on who can provide abortions and where compound the issue even further.
How Much Is an Abortion in Missouri?
Insurance status is irrelevant here since the state explicitly bans insurance providers from offering any coverage for abortion services. So patients pay the average cost of $470-$1,320 entirely out of pocket.
On top of the base cost of the procedure, the 72-hour waiting period and the fact that there are just four providers in the entire state means that many patients must travel miles to the nearest clinic at least twice (once for the initial consultation and mandatory lecture and again for the actual procedure) or pay for a hotel to wait the 72 hours.
35% of patients — nationwide, not just in Missouri — must travel 25 miles or more to the nearest abortion provider. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the average distance traveled to the nearest provider would increase to 122 miles.
These added expenses bring the total cost up. One estimate from Planned Parenthood’s Regional Logistics Center, which provides financial and logistical support for patients seeking abortion care, puts the total cost between $900 and $1,500 for these cases.
That estimate excludes any lost wages from missed work if the patient needs to stay in another city for 72 hours. And for those who need to take out a loan to cover the costs, interest rates range from 3% for a personal loan to 527% for a payday loan.
Resources and Recommendations for People in Abortion-Hostile States
Again, abortion is still legal. If you need one, you still have options. They may be few and far between and they may be costly, but there are organizations and resources out there ready and willing to help you. You are not alone.
Here are some tips, resources, and organizations that can help you get the care you need.
Beware of Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Crisis pregnancy centers are organizations that masquerade as health clinics but provide little to no actual medical services, and do not provide abortion services at all. They intentionally advertise in ways that mislead people into believing they’re a fully-functioning clinic like Planned Parenthood or a similar abortion care provider.
But when patients reach out to these crisis pregnancy centers, the staff will provide misleading or downright false information and often create extra obstacles to prevent you from receiving actual care.
Here are a few of the lies a crisis pregnancy center — or the abortion provider being forced to give you false information — might tell you:
- Having an abortion increases your risk of breast cancer. It does not.
- Having an abortion will make you infertile. It will not. There’s a small risk of developing an infection after a surgical procedure and if that infection isn’t treated, it could lead to fertility problems. Your provider will tell you how to watch for and get treatment for infections.
- You might get “post-abortion traumatic stress syndrome” which could make you mentally unstable or even suicidal. You won’t. That’s not a recognized condition. While some might have a harder time making the choice than others, the procedure does not cause mental health problems.
- Fetuses can feel pain as early as 12 weeks. They can’t. The sensory system necessary to feel pain doesn’t develop until 23-30 weeks in and, even then, there’s limited evidence that it begins transmitting sensory information until at least 29 weeks. 92% of abortions are performed before 13 weeks.
The truth is that both medical and surgical abortions are safe and effective. You will recover just fine and there are support options available if you need pre- or post-abortion counseling.
These fake clinics can be really good at disguising themselves, though.
So watch for these red flags (which you can usually find on their websites) before you visit one. If you’re still unsure, you can check if the clinic is listed on this map or this map of crisis pregnancy centers across the United States.
Reach Out to Actual Abortion Care Providers in Your State
Avoid the risk of accidentally going to a crisis pregnancy center by using this abortion clinic finder managed by the National Abortion Federation to find a provider near year.
If you’re early on enough in your pregnancy, you may be able to get access to a medical abortion via telehealth providers who can mail the medication to your doorstep — saving you the hassle (and the cost) of traveling for your abortion.
Hostile states are trying to crack down on this service but it’s worth finding out if it’s an option. You can check availability in your state using the Plan C Guide to Abortion Pills.
If no providers are close to you, call the closest one you find and ask if they can refer you to a provider who’s closer. If there aren’t any closer providers, the staff might at least be able to direct you to the local funds and organizations that can help you get the money (and the ride) you need to get to the clinic.
Get Support From Organizations That Provide Financial and Logistical Help
The National Abortion Federation, which maintains the clinic finder map linked above, also has a hotline you can call to learn about financial assistance and other resources you might need to get an abortion.
You can also reach out to the National Network of Abortion Funds which coordinates a nationwide network of local organizations that help you pay for the abortion as well as secure the transportation, lodging, and anything else you might need along the way.
If you’re going to a Planned Parenthood clinic, you can contact its Regional Logistics Center to get help making travel and lodging arrangements. The staff at the center will also help you connect with regional abortion funds and guide you through the process of applying for financial help.
If abortion does get banned in your state, this map from the Guttmacher Institute is a helpful reference to point you in the direction of the closest state to you that will still offer abortions even if Roe v Wade is overturned.
You can use that to figure out which state to look for a clinic and logistical support organizations in.
Seek Emotional Support if You Need It
In the hostile political climate of the United States, even when you’re sure about your choice, it’s normal to have a lot of complicated feelings about what you’re going through. The intimidation tactics of anti-abortion protestors and misleading crisis pregnancy centers can get to you no matter how resolved you are.
The good news is that you’re not alone.
During the appointment, many clinics have volunteer escorts who will walk with you to and from the door so you’re not facing the anti-abortion protestors alone. If you’re anxious about facing possible threats and abuse outside the clinic, call ahead to ask if any escorts will be available the day of your appointment.
After the procedure, you can call the Exhale talkline or the All-Options talkline for free one-on-one, zero-judgment support from volunteers. For spiritual and faith-based support that’s equally free of judgment, reach out to Abortions Welcome for resources, spiritual guidance, and acceptance.
5 Things You Can Do To Support People in States With Looming Abortion Bans
If the threat of Roe v. Wade overturning has woken up your desire to get involved and fight for this basic human right, there are lots of ways you can provide meaningful support to people who need abortions and push for stronger legislative action to protect this right.
Midterm elections are this November and primary elections are already underway. There are also state and local elections upcoming for governors, mayors, and other elected officials.
Find out when your local elections are happening (and register to vote if you haven’t already). Then, vote for pro-choice candidates who might break the decades-long delay in codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law.
2. Donate to Abortion Funds
Donate to the abortion care providers, funds, and organizations listed earlier in this article so that they can continue providing financial and logistical support to people in these abortion-hostile states.
You can also donate to these abortion funds listed by Rolling Stone.
Remember that these organizations will still need funding even when the media coverage dies down. If you’re able, consider setting up recurring donations.
3. Become an Escort
Volunteer at a clinic near you to be an escort. Escorts walk with patients to and from the clinic door to support them and make them feel less intimidated by the anti-abortion protestors hurling insults outside.
4. Become a Practical Support Volunteer
In addition to being an escort, logistical support organizations also need practical volunteers who can drive patients to and from clinics, assist with outreach efforts, do phonebanking, and perform other tasks that help the organization serve people in need and secure more funding to expand those services.
Reach out to the organizations mentioned earlier in the article to see if they need practical volunteers in your area.
5. Become a Vocal and Informed Advocate for Abortions Rights on Social Media
Use your platform, however big or small, to combat the wave of anti-abortion misinformation and raise awareness about the importance of protecting abortion access as a human right. You can find a great primer on the key facts and issues regarding abortion rights on Amnesty International’s website.
Post often. Share posts from the organizations on the frontlines of this fight. Be the loudest supporter of abortion rights that you can be.
If you know of more resources not mentioned in the article, please link to them in the comments below!