Abortion has become quite the topic of conversation, especially as the threat of overturning Roe v. Wade looms over the steps of the Supreme Court.
Having access to an abortion is critical for women of all walks of life, but don't just take our word for it.
Dr. Gillian Dean, Senior Director of Medical Services at Planned Parenthood, has some things to say. She was kind enough to answer all of our burning questions about abortion—including the cost, who can get one, why Planned Parenthood can be trusted, and more.
Women.com: Why can Planned Parenthood can be trusted as the place to get a safe and legal abortion?
Dr. Gillian Dean: Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country serving 2.4 million people, Planned Parenthood organizations provide patients with compassionate care, with respect and without judgment. We are a trusted source of reliable health information, in health centers and online.
Planned Parenthood is proud to provide expert, high-quality health care to our patients, including safe and legal abortion, in a safe and compassionate environment. Planned Parenthood is dedicated to the field of reproductive health and is a leader in the provision of safe, evidence-based care. We constantly evaluate new research in the field, new recommendations from medical associations, new technologies, and feedback from patients, experts, and regulators to continue improving our practices. We continually update and revise our medical standards and guidelines through a review by experts relying on current clinical research findings and updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other organizations.
WDC: Why is having access to abortions important?
DGD: Planned Parenthood believes that everyone should have access to safe, effective, and legal abortion, without stigma or barriers—and we are proud to offer abortion services at Planned Parenthood health centers for patients if and when they make that decision. We believe deeply in the right of all people—no matter who they are, where they live, or what they earn—to make their own personal decisions about their bodies, their families, and their paths in life, without political interference.
In this country and around the world, unjust laws, abortion stigma, and deeply rooted health and economic inequities create barriers for far too many when making their own decisions about continuing or ending a pregnancy. While abortion is very safe, stigma and policies that restrict people from accessing reproductive health care from skilled health care providers are dangerous.
Support for access to safe, legal abortion is at a record high—more than seven in 10 Americans support abortion rights. Planned Parenthood has been around for over 100 years and we will continue to fight to ensure that abortion remains safe and legal in this country.
Planned Parenthood is a trusted provider of sexual and reproductive health care for millions of people all around the country each year. Planned Parenthood health centers provide lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and STD testing and treatment, as well as abortion services. More than half of Planned Parenthood health centers are in rural or medically underserved areas, and for many patients, our providers are the only ones they’ll see all year. An estimated one in five American women has relied on Planned Parenthood for care in her lifetime.
WDC: Who can get an abortion?
DGD: While Roe v. Wade has legally protected the right of women in the U.S. to have an abortion, the reality is that access often depends on your zip code and your resources. In just the first quarter of 2018, 37 states introduced 308 new abortion restrictions. Too many people in the U.S. face barriers to sexual and reproductive health care, including safe, legal abortion. Everyone—no matter where you live, how much money you make, or who provides your health insurance—deserves access to health care without barriers or political roadblocks.
Young people under 18 may have to get a parent’s permission in order to get an abortion—it all depends on the laws where you live. Some states don’t make you get permission, but your parents will have to know that you’re getting an abortion. Some young people may be able to get a judge's permission to have an abortion without telling their parents. If you’re pregnant and want to have an abortion, you can call your nearest Planned Parenthood health center and they can help explain the laws in your state and let you know what your options are.
WDC: What are some common misconceptions about abortions?
DGD: There are many myths and misperceptions about abortion and those who have abortions. We’re proud to work with organizations and individuals working to end stigma about abortion. The reality is that abortion is normal: One in four women in America will have an abortion by the time they’re 45. Every pregnancy is unique, and every individual's personal decision about their pregnancy should be respected and valued.
One thing people may not know is that abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States. Data, including from the CDC, shows that abortion—both in-clinic and medication abortion—has over a 99 percent safety record. Major complications occur less than one percent of the time, and in those rare cases when complications do occur, they are similar to those that may occur from miscarriage, which OB/GYNs and other physicians treat every day. Having an abortion has no impact on future pregnancies.
WDC: What's the general cost of an abortion?
DGD: A medication abortion can cost up to around $1000, but it’s often less—the cost depends on where you get it and whether or not you have health insurance that will cover some or all of the cost. An in-clinic abortion in the first trimester can cost up to $1,500, but it’s often less—like medication abortion, it depends on where you get it (hospitals are often more expensive), and whether or not you have health insurance that will cover some or all of the cost. The cost also varies based on how long you’ve been pregnant—a second-trimester abortion usually costs more.
Your abortion may be free or low cost with health insurance, but not all insurance plans cover abortions. You can call your insurance provider directly to find out their policies. Some government health insurance plans in certain states cover abortion, but others do not. And some plans only cover abortion in certain cases. Your local Planned Parenthood health center can give you more information about coverage in your state, or other funds that can help you pay for your abortion. The professionals at Planned Parenthood work to give you the services you need, whether or not you have insurance. Many charge less for services depending on your income. If you’re worried about cost, call your local Planned Parenthood health center to see what resources are available.
WDC: What should women do if there's not a Planned Parenthood near them?
DGD: For people who are considering abortion, you can check Planned Parenthood’s website to find the nearest health center, or check with the National Abortion Federation for information about local abortion providers.
One thing people should be aware of when looking for reproductive health care are fake women’s health centers, or “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs). These centers are run by people opposed to legal abortion, and often advertise themselves as providing “free medical services” to make people think they’re legitimate health care providers. However, numerous reports and first-person accounts have shown that CPCs give people inaccurate, biased, and even false information in an attempt to shame, scare, or trick people out of having an abortion. CPCs may use deceitful or misleading films and pictures or tell outright lies about the medical and emotional effects of abortion. They may even lie about the gestational age of a pregnancy in order to make it harder for someone to access abortion at all by delaying their decision.
A person's decision about their pregnancy is deeply personal. Everyone should have full and accurate information about all of their pregnancy options, including adoption, having an abortion, and raising a child. Information should support the patient, help them make a decision for themselves, and enable them to take care of their health and well-being. That's what we do at Planned Parenthood.