8_10_17_abortion.jpg

A college student has traveled to the D.C.-area from Georgia for an abortion, only to learn at her check-up at the clinic that the procedure will cost $4,000 more than she anticipated.

The D.C. Abortion Fund shared the student’s story, without providing identifying details, to help raise money on her behalf. The nonprofit provides grants to pregnant people who need assistance paying for the procedure. While a majority of the patients are local, about 15-20 percent of their cases are from other parts of the country.

“By the time she figured out that she was pregnant, she was too far along to be seen by a clinic in Georgia,” says Meghan Faulkner, the co-director of case management at DCAF. The cut-off for abortions in Georgia, and 23 other states, is 20 weeks post-fertilization. “One of the closest clinics available [for her procedure] was a clinic in Germantown … It’s not uncommon at all for patients to be traveling that far.

Compared to Georgia and, more nearby, Virginia, Maryland has significantly fewer restrictionson abortion. There is no waiting period (Virginia requires patients to get an ultrasound and then, in most cases, wait 24 hours before an abortion), and can be performed any time before the fetus is viable.

The patient was largely paying her own way, with some assistance from DCAF and other abortion funds.

The cost of an abortion varies, depending on how far along in a pregnancy the patient is, the type of anesthetic, and whether there are health complications. A first trimester procedure costs a couple hundred dollars on average, and increases as the pregnancy progresses.

“The later second-trimester procedures that patients come to our area for, it can be $5,000, $6,000, $7,000. $8,000 is the highest we see on a more regular basis,” says Faulkner. What can be tricky is that, as women are trying to raise money for the procedure, the cost for it continues to rise. “A lot of the reason patients need our support and face high costs is because they aren’t able to get coverage.”

The Hyde Amendment, a budget rider attached annually to Congressional appropriations bills since 1976, prevents the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, with few exceptions, affecting people on Medicaid, federal employees, Peace Corps volunteers, federally incarcerated women and women in immigration detention centers, military personnel, and Native Americans. A similar rider called the Dornan Amendment ties D.C.’s hands when it comes to using locally raised funds to pay for the procedure (Congress keeps trying to make the policy permanent law). Virginia doesn’t use its state funds to pay for the procedure in most cases, a choice made by commonwealth officials.

Plus, there are costs beyond the actual abortion. “If someone is traveling from out of state, they’re paying for travel,” says Faulkner. “There’s a hotel cost. There’s also your companion—folks usually travel with someone to have an escort to be with them. There’s lost wages, because most of the people that we are helping don’t have paid sick leave or much, if any, vacation time. And childcare is another big one.” Later second trimester abortions generally take at least two days, unlike the outpatient procedure for those undergone in the first trimester.

DCAF exists to help fill the monetary gap. In fiscal year 2015, the organization assisted 1,200 patients, according to Faulkner, a number they well exceeded the following year, though they haven’t finalized the numbers for 2016 yet.

For the student from Georgia, her costs rose by $4,000 because she miscalculated when her pregnancy began. DCAF has already pledged to help pay the difference. “This particular patient was a college student who doesn’t have a ton of resources to say, ‘great, l’ll just pay $5,000 on my credit card.”

“We’ve worked with a number of patients who’ve faced similar things, especially if they’ve already come up with the money and gotten themselves here,” says Faulkner. “It”s often panic and feeling like, ‘How is this happening? I’ve done everything I possibly could and I’m facing another barrier.'”

http://dcist.com/2017/08/georgia_student_maryland_abortion.php