So how does this work? Covering the cost of your abortion.

After you’ve decided to have an abortion, there’s the matter of paying for it. Volunteer case managers at the DC Abortion Fund are here to guide you through the sometimes challenging process, but we also put together this brief set of questions and answers about covering the cost of your abortion.

How much does an abortion cost?

It varies. The cost of an abortion can depend on a variety of factors, including your health, the clinic, and the stage of your pregnancy. Abortion care can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousands of dollars, depending on a variety of factors including the patient’s health, how far along they are in their pregnancy, and which clinic they’re going to.  

Can I use my insurance?

It depends. Health insurance can reduce the cost of an abortion. A few states require insurance plans to provide insurance coverage of abortion while several states deny access to insurance coverage of abortion. The Hyde Amendment has paved the way for federal abortion coverage restrictions for patients on Medicaid, CHIP, and other federally-funded insurance programs–although some states use their own funds to cover abortion for Medicaid enrollees. Your insurance company will be able to tell you whether they cover abortion care. Like any other medical procedure, it’s important to find out which providers and services are included in your plan. If you’ve still got a balance after pulling together your resources, organizations like DCAF, the National Abortion Federation and other abortion funds around the country may be able to help make up the difference between the cost of your procedure and what you can cover.

Will my parents, partner, school or employer find out I had an abortion if I’m on their insurance?

Your confidential health information, including the result of a pregnancy test or an abortion, is protected under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). However, if a parent or partner is the primary insurance policyholder, they may receive an explanation of benefits (or EOB), a document that may be sent whenever care is provided under a policy that itemizes submitted claims. Some states require or presume that your medical provider will send an EOB. This may be simply a line stating the name of the provider or office and the amount billed, but it may include more information. So while your abortion provider will keep your health information confidential, the explanation of benefits may provide information about the medical services you receive. And if you are insured as a dependent, this EOB may reach your parent or partner if they are the policyholder.  Ask your care provider how services will appear on insurance paperwork, or research the laws and policies of your state.

If you have insurance through your school or job and are the primary policyholder, the EOB will go to you, as the primary policyholder. But some schools or employers refuse to cover reproductive health services, such as contraception or abortion, meaning that you may have to pay the entire cost out of pocket.

If you are a minor, in addition to confidentiality concerns surrounding EOBs, your ability to access abortion or reproductive health care depends on where you live. Different states have different policies when it comes to parental consent, so it is worth looking up the laws in your state. In DC, minors can consent to abortion. In Maryland, minors seeking abortion need to notify their parents, and in Virginia they need both parental notice and parental consent. Organizations like Jane’s Due Process have great information and resources around access to abortion care for minors.

Can I talk to someone about whether this is worth the expense?

We at DCAF affirm that you are the decision maker in your life. While we do not offer options counseling, we do offer financial counseling, should you decide to obtain an abortion. If you are interested in options counseling, we can refer you to an organization that may help.

Looking for a question/answer you didn’t see? Click here for more information about funding an abortion.

Need help? Please call DCAF’s free, confidential helpline at (202) 452-7464 and leave a voicemail for our case managers. Include your name and phone number, how many weeks pregnant you are, the date of your doctor’s appointment, and whether or not it is okay for us to leave you a voicemail. Here’s a link to more resources.

By volunteer Rebecca K.

Angry about the Kavanaugh vote? So are we.

Angry? Emotionally drained? Fired up to fight back? So are we.

The past few weeks were rough for many of us, especially for survivors. But we’re still here, and we’re not going anywhere.

From the very beginning, we knew Brett Kavanaugh was a dangerous pick for the Supreme Court — and not just because he’s signaled his view on access to abortion. He’s made clear that access to birth control, LGBTQ equality, immigrant rights, and voting rights will all be in jeopardy.

Not to mention that he’s been accused of sexual assault and misconduct — an act that should itself disqualify him from ever becoming a Supreme Court justice — by multiple women.

We’ve already seen more people traveling to the DC area for abortion care because of increased restrictions in their state (many are already living in a post-Roe world), and we only expect the demand to grow, especially with Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

But no matter what happens after he joins the bench, we will always be committed to working together with you — our community of supporters — to make abortion accessible.

Please join us with a recurring gift today to continue to support our work in 2018 and beyond.

What we must do to #StopKavanaugh

It’s been a rough few weeks following the Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

From the very beginning, we knew Brett Kavanaugh was a dangerous pick for the Supreme Court. If he’s confirmed, it’s very likely that Roe v. Wade would be overturned and more than 20 states would quickly ban abortion in most or all circumstances.

He’s made clear that access to birth control, LGBTQ equity, immigrant rights, and voting rights will all be in jeopardy.

And now, he has been accused of sexual assault — an act that should itself disqualify him from ever becoming a Supreme Court justice.

Everyone’s been asking you to call your senator or sign a petition — and you might be thinking, “but I live in DC! What can I do to stop Kavanaugh?”

Here’s three things you can do right now:

  1. Donate to DC Abortion Fund! Abortion funds like ours are going to need your dollars more than ever before if Kavanaugh is confirmed. We know that overturning Roe v. Wade or limiting access to abortion — especially coupled with limiting access to birth control — is not going to end abortion. In fact, we anticipate that the need will only grow.
  2. Call Congress. Yes, even if you’re a DC voter, you can call Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley and tell him why Kavanaugh is a dangerous pick. If you live in Maryland or Virginia, you already know what to do.
  3. Invite a friend to take action. Invite them to call their Senators (especially if they’re in a key state!) and donate to DCAF or a fund in their state.

DCAF supporters and leaders are speaking up in front of the White House, at the steps of the Supreme Court, and on the phone with their senators to #StopKavanaugh.

And they’re donating to DCAF (over $3,000 during our Taco or Beer Challenge alone last week!) because they know our work is more important than ever. Our supporters know that no matter what happens, our patients will count on DCAF and its incredible volunteers to make sure people will still be able to access abortion care. Will you join them?

What happens if Kavanaugh is confirmed?

Reproductive rights activists worry that, should Brett Kavanaugh be confirmed to the Supreme Court, there is a very real possibility that Roe v. Wade may be overturned. Without federal constitutional protection, a person’s ability to obtain an abortion would rest with the states, 19 of which adopted anti-abortion laws in 2017.

While there are no abortion-related initiatives or state constitutional amendments on midterm ballots in the DMV*, Virginia, and Maryland have both placed restrictions on abortion access since 2011 — and you can view a database of the laws, people, organizations, and litigation involved in sexual and reproductive health and justice in the United States here.

In addition to coverage from organizations like the DC Abortion Fund and from news outlets like Rewire.News, websites for local government are getting better at making legislation searchable. Here are the most recent abortion measures considered by the DC, Maryland, and Virginia legislatures:

In DC:

The Abortion Provider Non-Discrimination Act of 2017 is currently under Council Review. It would make it illegal under the D.C. Human Rights Act to fire a healthcare professional for participating in or expressing support for abortion care.

In Maryland:

Of six abortion-related measures introduced to the General Assembly this session, only HB 787/SB 629 was successfully enacted. Effective October 1, 2018 this law will mandate medical care for pregnant inmates in Maryland correctional facilities. This will guarantee access to a wide range of provisions, such as counseling, prenatal testing, abortion services, labor and delivery care, and child placement services.  

However, Maryland’s budget bill included a provision stating that Medicaid reimbursements for abortions would be limited to cases of “fetal impairment” cases where a pregnant person’s life or health is  endangered, or pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch has argued for a state constitutional amendment to protect abortion access, but this wouldn’t appear on the ballot until 2020.

In Virginia:

Several bills aimed at increasing abortion access failed to move forward. HB 1231/SB 910 proposed a fundamental right for pregnant people to obtain an abortion and was “passed by indefinitely.” HB 450 called for repeal of the law requiring  physicians to perform an ultrasound and obtain informed written consent from a pregnant person before performing an abortion. SB 133 similarly called for an end to the written consent requirement,  proposing that a pregnant person may waive in writing this requirement, but was “passed by indefinitely.” SB 292 proposed that the Board of Health fund abortions for survivors of incest or rape who reported their rape or incest to a public health agency and qualified for public assistance, but was also passed by indefinitely.

*DC: No ballot initiatives about abortion. Maryland: No Proposed State Constitutional Amendments about abortion. Virginia:  No Proposed State Constitutional Amendments about abortion.

By volunteer Rebecca K. 

Anti-Choice Ideology Weaponized to Impact Women a World Away

Generally speaking, abortion laws tend to not be very liberal in the developing world. In contrast, Ethiopia has surprisingly liberal abortion laws that were introduced in the early 2000s that allow for abortion in the cases of rape, incest, risk to the life of the pregnant person, fetal abnormalities, and if the pregnant person is too young to care for a child.

This liberalization was mostly due to high records of unsafe abortion-related deaths;  however, Ethiopia does not require proof of any of these considerations, allowing  pregnant patients to obtain abortions with relative ease if a clinic is nearby and if doctors agree to perform the procedure. Moreover, the clinics do not impose any mandatory waiting periods, and many doctors recommend getting an abortion within three days of asking and being deemed eligible to receive one.

The government allegedly did this to appease the family planning, women’s rights advocates, and religious groups on either side of the abortion issue. Yet, abortion services are affected when developing countries receive aid from certain countries, notably the U.S.

Turning to the U.S., the Helms Amendment, also known as the Global Gag Rule, was first enacted in 1973, and it prohibited any U.S. aid going to NGOs in foreign countries if abortions were performed or promoted in that country This law was repealed by President Obama, but it still complicated safe abortion efforts in foreign countries as NGOs  were confused by the new allowances that took effect during the years the law was revoked. That all changed within a few days that the Trump administration took over in 2017, and reimposed — as well as expanded — the Global Gag Rule to block health assistance to all foreign NGOs that use their own funding to offer abortion-related services.

This funding restriction on abortion conflicts with Ethiopia’s abortion laws and restricts what NGOs can do, effectively discriminating against pregnant people who are seeking an abortion just because they live in a country that receives U.S. foreign aid. It impacts people in developing countries by limiting their access to abortion, even though it is legal where they live. This harmful policy undermines the very goal of U.S. foreign aid organizations, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development, by directly and negatively affecting the health of people in poorer countries, while also “violating medical ethics and trampling on democratic values.”

To help people who live overseas receive the access to abortion they legally deserve, we as Americans must continue to advocate for abortion as a right and a medical health issue here in the U.S.  — to protect our citizens’ rights and those of global citizens.

By volunteer Sarah T. 

Why We Should All Double Our Donations to DCAF

Last week was an incredibly tough week for abortion rights advocates. With a devastating 5-4 loss in the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra and swing justice Anthony Kennedy retiring on July 31, the future of abortion access is one big question mark.

For those feeling helpless, I feel you. It’s daunting to think that the progress we’ve made in the 45 years since Roe v. Wade could be rolled back with a majority anti-choice court. Whether that rollback looks like a full reversal of Roe v. Wade or incremental losses like the NIFLA decision, the message is clear: we can’t depend on the Supreme Court to uphold abortion access.

With the courts in jeopardy and an anti-choice Congress, community organizations like the DC Abortion Fund are even more essential. There’s already a multitude of national and local restrictions on abortion care, and it’s not hard to predict that things will most likely get worse. If restrictions continue to increase without check in our judicial system, we must take it upon ourselves to ensure that folks are able to access abortion care, regardless of financial or physical barriers.

Organizations like DCAF will be front and center in providing financial help, especially if  resources are stretched even thinner to account for the inevitable influx of pregnant people seeking procedures. If Roe falls and there is no longer a federal right to abortion, it’s likely that even more people will have to travel to places like Maryland—which guarantee a right to abortion under state lawto get the care they need.   

If you are financially able, I encourage you to make a recurring or one-time donation to DCAF. Truly, every little bit helps and will go a long way in these uncertain times.

That feeling of helplessness won’t go away completely, but we can do our part in making abortion a little more possible.

By volunteer Caitlin V.

 

We must take action to prevent and end sexual harassment

We are disappointed and disgusted to hear multiple, detailed reports of ongoing sexual harassment at the National Abortion Federation and the Hotline Fund (as outlined in Rewire.News).

Everyone deserves to be able to work in a safe environment free of discrimination and harassment. Reproductive rights organizations and progressive spaces must be the leaders in the fight against harassment — and too often they fall short. It’s critical that all organizations ensure that their employees feel safe at work by taking all complaints seriously, creating policies with clear reporting systems, paying workers a living wage, outlining fair hiring and firing practices, and building mechanisms for holding management accountable for addressing discrimination and harassment in all forms.

That is why DCAF also supports the organizing effort of NAF workers to unionize and get a seat at the table in the decision-making process. This is particularly critical for those workers who are in direct contact with clients on the NAF Hotline and reportedly are more likely to be people of color, women, and identify as LGBTQ. Neglecting the needs of case managers comes at a significant cost to the clients who call, the case managers, their colleagues, and the reproductive rights movement as a whole — in the forms of harmed mental and physical health and high turnover and burnout.

We encourage all organizations to take action to prevent and end sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as discrimination and harassment of all kinds.

A Big Win in Ireland

This past January I became a DC Abortion Fund case manager. I did this because I feel passionately about the right to choose, and being able to exercise this choice in your own community. These values overlap with my day job at Catholics for Choice where we advocate for a person’s moral and legal right to abortion access globally.

On May 25, Ireland took a historic step and overwhelmingly voted to repeal the 8th Amendment, which equated the life of a pregnant person with that of an embryo or fetus and criminalized abortion except if continuing a pregnancy would result in certain death.

While in college, I spent a summer living and working in Dublin, Ireland. From my first weekend in the Longford countryside, I was struck by just how welcoming and kind the Irish people were. Nearly everyone I met was eager to discuss political and justice issues. Given that this was the summer of 2016, there was certainly no shortage of topics.

I met and worked with Irish women who were strong, passionate, and deeply concerned about equality. Some shared my interest in reproductive rights; frequently leading us to discussions on the dark history of the 8th Amendment, and the emotional and financial burdens that traveling abroad for abortion care imposes. Many of these stories — from the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar to the X case — were new, and deeply alarming, to me. The ban on abortion seemed so out of step with the compassionate Ireland I was welcomed into.

Historically, the Catholic hierarchy has exerted a strong hand in Ireland, as demonstrated by their role in the introduction of the 8th Amendment in 1983. Since then, Irish Catholics have questioned both the Catholic hierarchy’s views and its role in a secular state. These Catholics have evolved in their positions on abortion.

On May 25, 66 percent of Irish people voted to repeal the 8th Amendment. Voters overwhelmingly said that they trust women with their lives, their bodies, and their futures. In a predominantly Catholic country, this vote reaffirmed what has always been true — Catholics can be, and are, prochoice.

Together for Yes, and activists across Ireland, ran a campaign built on compassion. They succeeded in lifting the stigma and silence surrounding abortion. Catholics discussed their faith and their values, and ultimately came together to support people seeking an abortion. Both men (65.9 percent) and women (72.1 percent) voted for abortion access at home in Ireland. People of all ages voted yes, with an astounding 87.6 percent of voters aged 18-24 standing up for the right to choose. Even rural constituencies, like Longford, voted for Repeal in impressive margins.

Ahead of the referendum, you could see thousands of Irish citizens traveling to vote Yes on #HometoVote. And while they were coming home, on average nine people a day were leaving Ireland for an abortion in the UK. Thankfully, this will soon be over.

The Irish referendum filled me with hope that this momentous example will inspire further progress in favor of abortion access both at home and abroad. We will certainly continue fighting to make this a reality.

By volunteer Casey B.