Right to Choo$e

04.26.132:57 PM ET

Pro-Choice? Better Have Cash

How states are making abortions increasingly expensive.

We’ve been hearing a lot about efforts to limit abortion in recent months, but just how much work are pro-lifers putting in? It turns out, a lot: state legislatures have introduced a whopping 694 bills related to abortion in the first three months of this year, nearly half of which deal with the question of access. These come in a variety of forms: expensive and unnecessary architectural modifications to clinics, banning telemedicine (communicating with doctors via video) in rural areas, requiring three visits before the procedure, and so on. All these restrictions have a disproportionately large effect on poor women, who can’t afford to take time off from work or travel great distances. Unfortunately, these are the people who need help the most: a January Guttmacher Institute report indicates that women below the poverty level make up 42 percent of abortion patients. At present, only 17 states support these women’s medically necessary abortions with Medicaid. That means more than half of women pay for their procedures out of pocket. Vicki Saporta, CEO of the Washington-based National Abortion Federation, says that delay tactics on the part of state legislatures makes the process even more expensive: “The more restrictions placed on access, the greater the wait to have the procedure and the more expensive the procedure becomes because the woman is farther along in her pregnancy. A second trimester abortion can easily cost $10,000 if a woman has medical complications.” It’s still to be seen how many of these proposals will successfully pass.