Sometimes Piggy and I feel like we’ve written about every topic under the sun. Then we realize we haven’t written a guide on how to get an abortion. And we realize that no, indeed, Bitches Get Riches has only scratched the surface of topics related to finance, feminism, and fucks not given.
Abortion access has a staggeringly enormous impact on finances, whether you count that from a personal financial level or a global economic level. Yet it’s one of the least talked-about subjects in this space.
As an Angry Internet Feminist®, I’d love nothing more than to burn bright with the flame of moral outrage and say it’s because people are cowards. But I actually think a lot of people are intimidated by the topic because it’s a genuinely complex one to research, with laws varying by state and changing all the time. But it’s that complexity that makes it such an important topic to share with you, our readers.
We dream of a future where there are no barriers for anyone to seek out this common, safe, and morally neutral medical procedure. But for many people throughout the world, that future isn’t coming quickly enough.
So today we’re going to walk you through how to get an abortion! Including information on how to self-administer an abortion safely, affordably, and discreetly if you live in an area hostile to reproductive rights.
Today’s discussion obviously mentions pregnancy loss. We also touch on the logistical challenges of managing unsupportive partners and parents, but it’s pretty tame. No gory medical talk; no sexual violence.
A quick refresher on the economic impacts of abortion access
As Piggy talked about last week, having children is one of the most impactful financial decisions women (and non-binary people, trans men, and other uterus-havers) will face in their lives. I probably don’t have to sell any of our regular readers on this point. But I’ll refresh us with a few facts just for fun. (America-centric, cis-centric facts incoming, sorry!)
First: Abortions are common
Half of all pregnancies are unintended, and a quarter end with abortion. A quarter of adult women will have an abortion in their lifetimes. Don’t let the cone of silence fool you—it’s normal, and it’s fine.
Second: Children are expensive
Raising one child costs, on average, about a quarter million dollars. Not to mention the opportunity cost of a society hostile to simultaneously mothering and working. America, as a country, does very little to subsidize the labor of population replacement… but it’s not a phenomenon unique to us, either. With stagnant wages, unaffordable housing, limited childcare options, and skyrocketing education costs, can ya blame people for passing on more kids?
Third: Abortion access leads to better physical, mental, and financial health outcomes
Women with abortion access are more likely to graduate from high school and college, participate in the workforce, leave unhealthy relationships, and feel good about their lives in general, just to name a few. (Anti-choice activists love to suggest that abortion leads to lifelong emotional distress, but science says otherwise.)
Fourth: Reproductive justice is part of racial justice
When all of these statistics are broken down by race, you see improvements for everyone, but significantly higher improvements for Black women in particular. Many more women of color seek abortions than white women. And that’s probably because…
Fifth: People get abortions because they need abortions
Half of all abortion patients live below the federal poverty level. 60% are in their twenties, and 60% already have at least one child. You know what I see in those statistics? Really sound reasons for any person to not wanna stay pregnant!
As a society, it’s important for us to consciously reject the paternalistic, misogynistic, racist entitlement we feel to interrogate an abortion patient’s motives, logic, or agency. Assume that people get medical procedures because they need them. Followers of this life tip reduce the emotional pollution of tedious and unnecessary judginess on this already-dirty earth by 109%.[Citation Needed]
- On Pulling Weeds and Fighting Back: How (and Why) to Protect Abortion Rights
- The Most Impactful Financial Decision I’ve Ever Made… and Why I Don’t Recommend It
- Our Single Best Piece of Advice for Women (and Men) on International Women’s Day
- You Don’t Have to Have Kids
What happens during an abortion
Piggy and I ain’t doctors. (I did own a white coat once, which was a mistake. Impossible to keep clean.) Thankfully this medical topic is straightforward enough that even top-shelf dumbasses like us can explain it.
During the first trimester of a pregnancy, an abortion procedure is very simple. At this stage they’re called medical abortions or a pill abortion.
The first pill is mifepristone. When pregnant, your body relies on a hormone called progesterone to prepare itself for pregnancy. Mifepristone hits the “mute” button on that hormone for a lil’ bit.
About forty-eight hours after you take it, you’ll take a second pill containing misoprostol. And it’ll basically give you uterine contractions exactly like your period. You’ll have cramps and bleeding as usual, but possibly heavier.
If you have more questions about what the experience itself feels like, here are some more resources.
- I Had a Medical Pill Abortion, AMA on Reddit
- How Does the Abortion Pill Work? via Planned Parenthood
- How Do You Know If the Abortion Pill Worked? by Healthline
How to get an abortion
Because nothing can just be fucking easy, every country handles abortion differently. Even within America, every state has different laws. Some are very restrictive, and others much less so. (This is just one reason why it’s really important to vote, even if it’s not during a presidential election cycle. Our elected officials make the laws regarding abortion and birth control access.)
Here are the steps to follow if you live in a state with no or low restrictions. After that, we’ll go over common restrictions and how to get around them.
Take action the moment you suspect you may be pregnant
We’re born procrastinators here at BGR. So we normally cut a lot of slack for that shit. But in this case, you absolutely mustn’t delay. Not even by one day.
Most states restrict your ability to get an abortion after a time limit. The most common cutoff is around the age of fetal viability (around 20-24 weeks), but some are intentionally draconian (6 weeks). These ultra-restrictive laws are designed to legally trap you into a pregnancy before you even realize you’re pregnant.
Setting aside the legality, the cost of the procedure will climb if you delay past the 11-12 week window.
State-by-state gestational limits are shifting all the time based on active lawsuits. For example: when I started writing this article, telemedicine abortions were legal. By the time I finished it, they were not! States keep trying new things, and courts keep striking them down, and it’s hard to stay on top of everything. So here are some links of sites that should have up-to-date information as things change—always for the better, we hope!
- An Overview of Abortion Laws via the Guttmacher Institute
- Is Abortion Legal in My State? via Planned Parenthood
- Abortion in the United States by State: Current Legal Status Nationwide on Wikipedia
Start by calling your doctor
That can be a primary care doctor or an OB/GYN. They can give you a pregnancy test that’s more accurate than the pee-on-a-Walgreens-stick. If you are indeed pregnant, they can either facilitate terminations directly, or refer you to a local clinic.
Book the appointment without worrying how you’ll get there, how you’ll take time off of work, who will watch your kids, or how you’ll pay for it. You can figure the logistics out later. You may have a very limited choice of providers with very few open slots, so the most important thing is to get it booked.
Verify your insurance coverage
If you have health insurance, get out your insurance card and call the number on the back. Ask if abortions are covered under your plan. Unfortunately, many states restrict insurance coverage on abortions, so it may not be.
Either way, expect to pay. Even if you’re insured and fully covered, you’ll still have to cough up a co-pay. And many doctors suggest taking the day off in anticipation of heavy period-like symptoms.
This is a perfectly imperfect example of why we so stridently urge people to always have an emergency fund.
- You Must Be This Big to Be an Emergency Fund
- 3 Times I Was Damn Grateful for My Emergency Fund (and Side Income)
- 3 Badass, Sexy, Totally Metal Reasons to Save $1,000
- On Emergency Fund Remorse… and Bacon
Follow medical instructions exactly
Don’t take the first pill and not the second. Don’t deviate from the timeline your doctor or clinic provides. This shit ain’t a Flintstone’s gummy!
Although serious complications and side effects are rare, they’re not unheard of. For example, your pregnancy could be ectopic, requiring immediate emergency medical attention.
Some medical facilities will insist you come into their office just to take the pill in-person under their supervision. Although I find that annoying and a bit paternalistic, it’s also not abnormal.
Common abortion restrictions, and how to handle them
What if I don’t have a doctor? Or I don’t trust my doctor?
Call one of the two hotlines below. They’re toll-free, multilingual, and provide accurate, confidential consultations about your options. They can refer you to your closest local providers.
- The National Abortion Federation Hotline at (877-257-0012)
- Planned Parenthood of America at (800-230-PLAN)
Warning: do no deviate from the above list. You run the risk of stumbling into “crisis pregnancy centers.” They are NOT medical providers. They are anti-choice religious organizations that will happily use guilt, shame, medical misinformation, data manipulation, high-pressure sales tactics, and outright lies to convince you to carry your pregnancy to term.
What if I don’t have insurance? Or I just can’t pay for it?
Unfortunately, many providers—including Medicare—can’t or won’t cover abortions. The cost will be somewhere between $400 and $800 dollars for a medical abortion.
Hopefully you have the money. If you don’t, you need to get creative. Any option is better than carrying a pregnancy to term when you’ve decided that’s not the right choice for you. Childbirth and an actual human child cost way more than an abortion.
Put it on a credit card. Ask to borrow the money from a friend, or even your parents. (If you think you need to lie about what it’s for, trust your instincts and lie away. Don’t worry, we won’t narc on you.)
- How to Pay Hospital Bills When You’re Flat Broke
- Dafuq Is Insurance and Why Do You Even Need It?
- I Think I Need to Go the Emergency Room?
- Financial Lessons Learned from a Night in the ER
If there are enough clinics in your area, you can price shop. Ask how much they charge for the procedure, and if they offer any payment plans, sliding scales, or other kinds of financial assistance. Make sure one of them is a Planned Parenthood. It’s part of their core mission to maximize care in spite of financial hurdles.
If all else fails, there are a few organizations that offer financial aid to people seeking abortions. Here’s a few to get started.
- AbortionFunds.org via the National Network of Abortion Funds
- Financial Resources for Abortion by State via Provide
What if I’m past the first trimester?
The efficacy of a medical abortion drops off after the twelve-week mark. At that point, termination is still possible, assuming you’re in a state with fair gestational limitations. But it’s a more invasive procedure, so it needs to be done in-clinic.
The price will also climb by quite a bit. Expect to pay between $400 and $1,500 without insurance for an in-clinic abortion.
What if I’m aborting a pregnancy I wanted?
I am so sorry. That is a terrible situation.
You need (and deserve) tons of emotional support. A good place to start might be an online support group, like the private Facebook group Ending a Wanted Pregnancy.
There’s a lot of people out there who’ve gone through it. And some of them have found resolution after their loss by helping others who are going through the same thing. Please find them and lean on them. Don’t go it alone.
Everyone else, here’s a reminder to never ask invasive questions about how someone else’s pregnancy is going. Don’t discuss other people’s bodies unless directly invited to the topic. You don’t want to inadvertently dredge up painful memories or trigger the stress of a recent trauma.
What if I can’t physically get to a clinic?
Because abortion providers are so tightly regulated, you may have to go a good distance to reach one. That’s a hurdle for people who can’t drive, don’t have access to reliable public transportation, or need to be discreet around unsupportive partners or family members.
Start by talking to your clinic. Ask if they offer virtual appointments. If they don’t, they may be able to connect you to individual volunteers or organizations who can help, such as the Brigid Alliance.
Obviously, you can also ask a friend or family member for a ride. But you should only do so if you trust them. Since they’re dropping you off, you can’t really conceal where you’re going. If you need to go into debt to rent a car or take a ride-share, do it.
What if I’m anxious about walking past protesters?
Ugh. Anti-choice protesters suck. A lot of them are creepily pleasant, trying to strike up a fake-friendly conversation with you so they can get close enough to slip “literature” into your hands. Others holler at you, shove graphic photos under your nose, and beg you not to kill your baby.
Like? Ma’am, the only thing I’m killing today is the burning infection in my pee hole. Also this is a Wendy’s.
Even without protests, going into a clinic can be scary, with bomb-proof airlocks, metal detectors, armed guards, and bag checks to get inside. I don’t blame anyone for feeling freaked out.
The silver lining on this shit-cloud is that your clinic can probably help you. If you’re scared, call them and tell them. Many of them have volunteers whose only job is to be a friendly face, guiding you safely inside. They’ll keep the herds and their propaganda pamphlets back, and make pleasant conversation in your ear to drown out any insufferable freeze peach.
Or call me! I will march out first, walking like Mickey Mouse with huge bouncing arm swings, whistling a jaunty tune, saying “Boy oh boy, what a fine morning it is to destroy God’s most precious gift of life!” When they follow me like a hungry zombie herd, you can slip in unnoticed. That’s the BGR brand promise!
- What It’s Like to Be an Abortion Clinic Escort via Cosmopolitan
- Here’s How You Can Become an Abortion-Clinic Escort via The Cut
Will my partner find out?
Zero states require paternal notification or consent for an abortion.
That means that it is entirely your choice. Your partner has no legal right to know it happened, let alone interfere with it.
Planned Parenthood has an excellent infrastructure for this kind of situation. Their online portals are very secure. When you book appointments, you have the option to have them identify themselves as a generic doctor’s office, friend, or some other pseudonym if they need to call or leave messages.
If you’re both on the same insurance though, it may be a good idea to pay in cash to avoid creating any paper trails that might tip off an abusive partner.
And it goes without saying, but we love you, and we hope this moment of crisis becomes part of a bigger exit strategy. We all deserve love and support.
Unless we’re Mitch McConnell.
MITCH! You’d better not be reading this! I swear to god, if I have to tell you one more time to quit STINKING UP my award-winning cheese cracker review blog, Wikipedia’s Category: Extinct Turtles list is gonna have a fresh entry!
- When Money is the Weapon: Understanding Intimate Partner Financial Abuse
- Our Master List of 100% Free Mental Health Self-Care Tactics
- Ask the Bitches: “I Just Turned 18 and My Parents Are Kicking Me Out. How Do I Brace Myself?”
Will my parents find out?
If you’re under eighteen, most states will notify your parents, require your parents’ signed, notarized permission, or both.
Some offer judicial bypass procedures. How realistic is for a seventeen-year-old to file (and win!) court proceedings without the assistance of supportive adults in time for an abortion? Not very, I would think?
Even if you’re in a state without that restriction, your parents will almost certainly get medical paperwork about it if you’re on their insurance plan. As the policy owner, they’ll get bills, account statements, claim confirmations, and other paperwork in emails and printed letters. Our medical system is absolutely not optimized to make medical secret-keeping easy between a parent and minor child.
If your parents are overall pretty supportive, and you’re holding back just to avoid an unpleasant conversation, I think you should reconsider honesty. Because the alternative to honesty is keeping the secret for as long as your parents live. That’s a lot of decades to ferment unnecessary shame.
Okay, but what if my parents absolutely cannot find out?
What can you do if your parents are controlling and abusive? Or likely to deny you the reproductive care you need? What happens if you have no access to your own legal help to seek a judicial bypass?
As far as I can tell, I’m supposed to say: nothing. Just a sad situation with no recourse. Sorry! That concludes this section! Any pregnant children should definitely stop reading now. Enjoy the eighteen-year commitment our patriarchal society just foisted upon you! Under His Eye, k thanx bye!
Now that they’re gone…
On a totally unrelated note…
I shall start a new section about how to self-administer a safe medical abortion by ordering pills discreetly through the mail without any insurance paperwork!
You’re gonna love this, fellow grownups. It’s so easy a child could do it!
How do I (safely!) self-administer an abortion if I have no other choice?
If something is preventing you from accessing abortion services locally, everything’s not lost. We have one last “break glass in case of medieval abortion restrictions” method.
Aid Access is an international organization of physicians and advocates. If you are healthy and less than 10 weeks pregnant, they can help you regardless of location or cost. Their services depend on where you live.
- In low-regulation areas, they will connect you with a local doctor and pharmacy to get you medication in a few days. The cost is about $150.
- In high-regulation areas, they will connect you with a doctor and pharmacy outside the country. The pills take about two weeks to arrive, but the service only costs about $105.
If you can’t afford it, Aid Access can help cover some or all of the cost. Either way, your medication will be shipped to you in discreet, unlabeled packaging.
The legal status of this system is… questionable. There is an ongoing fight with the FDA over the legality of Aid Access. Given time, it may fall. But even if this resource goes away, another will rise to take its place. The world is full of uppity women (and other uterus-havers) who are happy to be sued, fined, threatened, jailed, and even killed for the cause of helping others live a life of freedom and self-determination.
What if I’m not in the United States?
Aid Access was originally created for women in countries where abortion is illegal. It only became popular in the United States after the successful rise of the death-by-a-thousand-cuts abortion regulation strategy of the past few years.
There’s also Women on Waves, a pro-choice nongovernmental organization based on a ship in international waters. They sail the seven seas to bring abortion services to people in countries where it’s illegal… exactly like a bunch of modern feminist pirates! How dare they take my dream job like that?!
So I you’re in a country other than America, check them out. They may be able to help.
If you are traveling or staying abroad for any length of time in a country where abortion is illegal or tightly restricted, consider talking with your doctor before you go. They may be willing to provide you with an emergency dose to take with you, just in case. I strongly suggest this to students studying abroad or traveling for international programs like the Peace Corps.
Piggy and I can’t afford lawyers. (We can’t afford quilted toilet paper.) But if we did, we imagine they’d make us say shit like this:
- Medication is serious business. Always take it as directed by a doctor.
- Don’t take new medications alone. You need someone with you to make sure you’re not having any serious adverse reactions.
- Never, ever try to injure yourself, poison yourself, or self-medicate with weird shit to induce an abortion. First of all, it won’t work. (If Moon Tea worked, every civilization in the last five thousand years of human history would’ve been guzzling that shit by the gallon.) Secondly, it’s incredibly dangerous. You could kill yourself, seriously injure yourself, or make yourself puke. And quite a lot of things in-between.
- Obey your parents, partners, state and federal laws, and patriarchal Abrahamic gods, no matter how cruel, abusive, illogical, and imaginary they may be. Definitely don’t share this article widely and spread this information around if you think it might help people who need abortions get abortions!
Phew. What a labor of love this article has been! So much research on science, medicine, laws, and recent news! Had so many tabs open my computer coulda toasted marshmellows. But all that work is worth it if it helps even one person.
Readers, did I miss any good resources? If so, please add them into the comments below! I’m sure there are more out there, and I’m happy to add more later.
A friendly reminder from the bitches: if you liked this article, and you want to help it reach more people, please consider supporting our work. We only need 48 more people to reach our goal of 500 supporters, which will fund a third season of our podcast. Donations start at only $1. Every little bit helps.
And if you can’t do that, there’s something free you could do instead!
We’re trying to be more active on Pinterest. (Our old pins weren’t cute. Sorry. They’re better now!) We’ve noticed that most abortion-related content on Pinterest is anti-choice. That’s appalling, especially on a social media platform with so many women! So it would help us out a lot if you followed us on Pinterest or pinned this article in particular by clicking the tiles below. We’re over here trying to change the conversation, and y’all can come too.