How much do abortions cost? For many it is already too much.

Although the right to abortion has been enshrined in US law for nearly 50 years, the cost of the procedure has steadily increased and can now prevent women from obtaining treatment, according to new research from the University of California at San Francisco.

Abortion could become even more financially out of reach for millions of Americans though Roe v. Wade is shot downwhich would force many women to travel beyond their home state to receive treatment.

The Supreme Court seems ready to overturn the historic decision on the right to abortion, according to a draft opinion published for the first time by Politico. If finalized, those rights would go to state lawmakers, with 26 states certain or likely to ban abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that advocates abortion rights.

A woman who underwent a first-trimester abortion in 2020 paid about $ 515 (based on inflation) for the procedure, an 8% increase from the average cost in 2017, U.N. researchers found. of California. Most people pay out of their own pockets for abortion treatment due to regulations that restrict the use of federal funds, including Medicaid, to pay for them. Some states even prohibit insurance companies from covering the procedure.

Travel expenses and lost wages can add hundreds of dollars more to the cost of seeking an abortion. Patients already typically pay ancillary expenses to seek abortion treatment that can go up to more than $ 400 in transportation, lost wages, childcare bills, and other costs, the study noted. In total, patients face direct costs of nearly $ 1,000 to afford a first-trimester abortion, the study concluded.

Meanwhile, being unable to afford reproductive care can have a long-standing impact on a woman’s financial security, experts note.

“Reproductive and gender justice are critical to body autonomy and economic security,” said Shawn Fremstad, senior policy fellow at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). The ability to have control over family planning choices has helped women ensure job opportunities and financial security, Fremstad added.

Barrier to treatment

Even with abortion as a legal option in the United States, the costs of abortion can create a barrier to treatment, a reality perhaps unsurprising given that research also shows that a quarter of Americans find it difficult to pay an emergency expense of $ 400, the study authors noted.

“Lack of financial resources can create an insurmountable barrier to abortion,” they wrote. “For many people, the cost of an abortion can exceed the ability to pay.”

For example, the direct costs of an abortion in the first quarter in 2016, which cost about $ 400 at the time, would have been “financially catastrophic” for families earning their state’s median monthly income in 39 states, the study says.

According to the study, second-trimester abortions are even more expensive, costing an average of $ 1,014 in 2020. Drug-induced abortion, which involves taking two drugs, cost an average of $ 537 in 2020. .

The costs of abortion care could increase due to regulations and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in a widespread shortage of personnel in the health sector and an increase in medical costs, the researchers noted.

Businesses come into play

Some state lawmakers have already tried to curtail abortion rights, such as in Texas, which banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant.

In response to these laws, some large companies have added travel benefits for workers who need to travel to seek medical care, including abortions.

Stricter abortion laws that force some providers to take large measures to offer assistance

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Citigroup added travel benefit to his workplace offers after Texas and other states enacted restrictive reproductive health care laws. And on Monday, Amazon told its US workers it would reimburse up to $ 4,000 in travel expenses for medical procedures, including abortions.

If Roe v. Wade is eliminated, workers employed by some deep-pocketed companies will likely have financial support to travel to states that are supposed to preserve abortion rights, such as California or New York. But low- and middle-income women in states where abortion could become illegal, who don’t have access to such benefits in the workplace could face financial hurdles.

“History shows that when treatment for abortion is limited, it is blacks and Hispanics who have the greatest difficulty in obtaining treatment,” the researchers noted. “Before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal throughout the country, middle-class white women in some states could secure a legal abortion or travel out of the country.”

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