As Supreme Court weighs abortion, here’s the true cost of traveling out of state to access one — or being denied altogether

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Beth Viall only learned that she was pregnant at the end of her second trimester.

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This was surprising news: A few years before she started her freshman year of college in 2017, a 27-year-old Sheesh from Portland, Ore., was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and irritable bowel syndrome. A doctor told her that she would not be able to get pregnant without medical intervention, adding that she would need to go on birth control to balance her hormones.

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But complications with her parents’ health insurance at the time delayed Viall filling her birth control prescription for more than a week.

“I was in a long-term, committed relationship, and it was in that window that I became pregnant,” Viall said. “I was never told there was a risk of pregnancy – and because of PCOS, I didn’t menstruate, so I didn’t show any obvious signs. I was completely unaware that I was pregnant.”

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The total cost of the vial to seek abortion care would be thousands of dollars.

The most conservative U.S. Supreme Court in decades heard oral arguments Wednesday in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — about a Mississippi law that would ban nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy — and conservative justices indicated they were going to lift the restrictions. were open to maintain. The case will determine whether states can ban abortion before “viability,” meaning the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks.

Lower courts had stopped the ban from taking effect based on the Supreme Court’s precedent that states could not prevent people from terminating a pregnancy before viability. Mississippi is asking the state court to reverse Roe v. Wade and allow individual states to decide the legality of abortion.

,‘I was completely unaware that I was pregnant.’,

–Beth Vial, who traveled to New Mexico for abortion care

Abortion-rights advocates fear that reversing or weakening the nearly 50-year-old precedent could increase the financial burden for those seeking abortion care and shake the foundations of reproductive rights in America. In search of their “post-row strategy” and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars On federal lobbying in the third fiscal quarter, according to open secret, Anti-abortion group, Susan B. Anthony List did not return a Marketwatch request for comment on this story.

“Mississippi’s law, if upheld, brings us closer to where we need to be,” said Marjorie Danenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List. prepared comments outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday. “It is America’s chance to step back from the brink of insanity after so many long years. To turn the page on Roe’s difficult chapter and begin a more human era – one where every child and every mother is safe within the bounds of the law. Is.”

‘It was incredibly different’

Vial considers herself lucky. She believes that dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and accessing care for a subsequent miscarriage would have been more challenging today.

Restrictive abortion laws have proliferated in the South and Rust Belt in recent years, and many people are already unable to access abortion care. For example, a Texas law Presently before the Supreme Court Restricted abortion can be detected after cardiac activity in the fetus – as early as six weeks, at which point many people are unaware that they are pregnant. Supporters of these measures refer to them as “heartbeat bills”, a term many health care professionals call. call wrong,

“I chose to advocate for abortion access because when I was going through my own experience, it was incredibly different,” said Viall, a program coordinator for WeTestify, an advocacy organization dedicated to the leadership and management of abortion-seeking people. Dedicated to representation. “You hear a lot of stories about women who didn’t know they were pregnant” while they are in labor, I just found out within the window that I could reach care. ,

But the journey was not easy. Although Vial lived in Oregon – a state whose policy has been helpful Abortion Rights – She Demanded Abortion Before the State’s 2017 reproductive health equity act, which expanded access by requiring private insurers to cover abortion care at no out-of-pocket costs, went into effect. The fact that abortion is performed later in pregnancy is still controversial and added to the difficulty.

The medical school that Vial initially sought care was not openly advertising abortion services. Given her medical history and the fact that she was at the end of her second trimester, access to abortion care required majority board approval from the university’s Department of Natal.

“I was only able to get two out of five doctors to approve my procedure, so they referred me to a clinic in New Mexico,” Vial said. “I was only a week off the gestational limit — so I had a week to figure out how I was going to pay for everything.”

“I chose to advocate for abortion access because when I was going through my own experience, it was incredibly different,” says Beth Vial.

beth vial

The nationwide average cost of surgical abortion at 10 weeks in 2014 was $508, According to a nationwide study On the cost of abortion, though the cost can range from $75 to $2,500. The average cost of an early drug abortion at 10 weeks is $535 and can range from $75 to $1,633.

But the cost of abortion also varies among states, providers, and other factors, and can increase significantly as the pregnancy progresses. According to Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health think tank that supports abortion rights, says abortion at 20 weeks’ gestation can cost about 2.5 times more than abortion at 10 weeks.

For the vial, which was miscarried at 26 weeks, the surgical procedure came with a $10,500 price tag. Additional medical expenses, airfare to Albuquerque, and the cost of accommodation would increase by $3,550. (Abortion at or after 21 weeks is uncommon and accounts for just 1% of all abortions in the US, according to kff, a healthcare think tank.)

“I had just started working at a new job and I took three weeks off from work, so I lost a year and a half of pay,” Viall said. “I Was Able to Get Help From My Local Abortion Fund [in Oregon] And a loan from a family friend. I was lucky enough to have an asset like that, because without it, I wouldn’t have been able to access my abortion.

Increasingly restrictive abortion policies pose an economic barrier for many women. And nearly half of women who have abortions live below the federal poverty level, making it even more financially difficult for them to cover basic expenses when traveling to receive care.

Restrictive abortion policies may also be costly to the economy, suggests research: Women’s Policy Research Institute, a Washington DC-based nonprofit an estimate State-level abortion restrictions are costing the country $105 billion a year due to reduced labor-force participation and earnings and increased time off and turnover among women aged 15 to 44. in Mississippi, it means that About $1 billion in annual economic losses.

According to Guttmacher, between 1973 and this past October, states implemented more than 1,300 abortion restrictions. While 16 states have demonstrated support for abortion rights, 29 have policies considered “hostile” and five are in middle ground.

Barriers to access to abortion have arisen a jump The number of women forced to cross state borders for care, and some clinics are preparing for an even greater increase in out-of-state patients in the wake of the Supreme Court hearing. If the cry is weakened or reversed, it will be “certain or likely” to prohibit abortions expeditiously, according to some 26 states. a guttmacher analysis — meaning any of the estimated 36 million women of reproductive age in those states seeking an abortion would need to travel long distances for out-of-state care.

Read more: Nearly half of women who have abortions live below the federal poverty level

“Over the years we have seen an increase in out-of-state patients coming to care, but over the past few months, we have seen a 30% increase in out-of-state patients,” said Kristen Schultz, The vice president of operations and strategy at Planned Parenthood of Illinois told Businesshala. “We’ve certainly increased patients directly from Texas, but in September we saw patients from 12 different states.”

Maleeha Aziz says, ‘At the age of 20, I did not want to be a parent.

Maleeha Azizo

‘I was naive and thought it would be easy’

Shortly after moving from Pakistan to Dallas, Texas in 2013, 28-year-old Maleeha Aziz found out she was pregnant.

“At 20, I didn’t want to be a parent. I was new here and didn’t know…


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