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  5. Abortions now cost over $450, more than double the price before Roe was overturned, per a reproductive care nonprofit director

Abortions now cost over $450, more than double the price before Roe was overturned, per a reproductive care nonprofit director

Allie Kelly   

Abortions now cost over $450, more than double the price before Roe was overturned, per a reproductive care nonprofit director
  • Every week, 300 people call the Chicago Abortion Fund for help paying procedural and travel costs.
  • Prior to Dobbs, CAF paid $175 per person in medical costs. Last year, that number rose to $450.

Every week, nearly 300 people seeking abortions call the Chicago Abortion Fund for information and financial assistance. Abortion access has narrowed across the country, while the costs — both medical and logistical — are rising.

CAF is a nonprofit organization that helps people access abortions by providing financial and logistical support so pregnant people understand their options. CAF's average aid costs have nearly tripled since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022 — with many callers requiring help paying for medical appointments and travel expenses, executive director Megan Jeyifo told Business Insider.

Before 2022, CAF expected to pay $175 per person to help cover the medical costs of an abortion. Last year, that number rose to $450 per person, a contribution that doesn't always cover the entirety of a caller's out-of-pocket medical expenses, Jeyifo said. When someone needs more intensive hospital-based care, that figure could be $5,000.

Still, abortion costs are extremely unpredictable. Legal restrictions, gestation windows, travel requirements, medical costs, and insurance coverage vary widely based on individual circumstances.

CAF also pays "wraparound support," providing abortion seekers with money for travel, lodging, childcare, pain medication, and more. Before Roe v. Wade was overturned, CAF paid an average of $120 per person in wraparound costs, with just 8% of callers requiring that support, CAF data shows. But, in 2023, the average cost per person jumped to $400 and 40% of the fund's callers needed assistance with wraparound costs.

Abortion funds provide information and help offset costs

The demand for funds like CAF has risen significantly since June 2022, Jeyifo said. In the years since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision, 25 states voted to restrict or outright ban abortions.

In 2020, there were an estimated 930,000 abortions in the formal US healthcare system, per The Guttmacher Institute. In the first 10 months of 2023 — the most recent available dataset —there were an estimated 878,000 abortions recorded. Guttmacher Institute researchers said 2023's numbers, even without November and December data, are trending toward exceeding pre-Dobbs numbers, which still don't include abortions performed outside the formal healthcare system.

When someone calls the CAF looking for help with an abortion, they'll be able to learn what kind of reproductive healthcare is available in their state, whether they would need to travel for an abortion, and how the fund can help with payments.

Its employees and volunteers act as case managers for abortion seekers, coordinating doctor's appointments, booking plane tickets, and working together with funds in other states to alleviate costs.

CAF is one of the largest abortion funds in the country and is largely supported by donations from individuals and foundations. It also received funding from the city of Chicago and is one of the few abortion funds to receive local government funding.

Abortion funds are the only cost-support option for millions, as affordable clinics like Planned Parenthood continue to close in states with strict bans. What's more, insurance doesn't cover most abortion care, and Medicaid coverage varies by state. Usually, almost all of an abortion seeker's costs are out-of-pocket. Funds like CAF can help offset costs, but often can't fully cover thousands of dollars in healthcare and logistical bills.

And, Jeyifo said there are significant barriers to abortion access.

The typical abortion seeker is already a mother, Jeyifo said, complicating travel. An abortion seeker might have to find childcare, take time off of work, book travel arrangements, and pay medical costs not covered by insurance. Mandatory waiting periods in some states might mean more nights in a hotel room, more doctor's appointments to pay for, and more days out of office.

Laws are changing quickly, per KFF (formally known as the Kaiser Family Foundation), and an abortion seeker's options could be limited by how far along they are in their pregnancy.

With rising travel costs, abortion funds worry their work isn't sustainable

States like Illinois, New Mexico, and Colorado which border states with restrictive abortion laws have seen an influx of out-of-state abortion seekers, according to The Guttmacher Institute.

The Cobalt Abortion Fund — a Colorado-based organization that serves the Rocky Mountain region — has increased its procedural and support spending by about $1 million since 2021. Director Melisa Hidalgo-Cuellar said the jump is largely due to more people needing travel cost assistance.

So far this year, Hidalgo-Cuellar said 84% of Cobalt's clients requiring travel support have come from Texas. The state's law prohibits abortion in all cases except during a "life-threatening emergency."

Even in states with protections, Hidalgo-Cuellar said some people live in "abortion deserts." Someone living in a rural area might need to travel to a city for care, she added.

"The number of clients that we're seeing increases every single month, and you can see the ripple effects of these bans throughout the country happening in real time," she said.

ARC Southeast is another abortion fund that primarily operates in states with strict abortion restrictions, like Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Arc Southeast's average caller has to travel 154.5 miles for care.

Much of Arc Southeast's resources are directed toward helping more than 40 daily callers make travel plans to neighboring states for abortions, said Sumeyye K., a healthline coordinator. Her identity is known to Business Insider, but she requested to go by her first name for privacy.

The fund also provides emotional support and reproductive healthcare education — because seeking an abortion "can be really isolating," Sumeyye said.

"Despite how flexible and adaptive we become to the ever-changing landscape it can still be tricky to come up with new policies and methods to get people to their appointments," Sumeyye said. "I get 'God bless you's' daily, I am constantly on the phone with people who are tearing up at the end of the conversation and are really grateful that there is an organization like ours willing to step in."

Jeyifo said funds like CAF continue to find ways to support people who need abortions. But, increasing costs and legal restrictions make it difficult for them to continue to meet demand.

This public health crisis is not going away, Jeyifo said, and abortion funds need a long-term solution. She said it's difficult to keep the work of abortion funds in the public eye — and she worries about donations drying up.

Solutions look like federal funding support and tangible policy intervention, she said.

Reproductive healthcare access is a key issue for the 2024 election, with as many as 13 states planning to put the constitutional rights to abortion on the ballot. Imminent rulings from the Florida Supreme Court will also decide the fate of the state's abortion bans, and whether voters will have a say in abortion laws this November.

"Abortion funds are incredibly nimble, incredibly creative, incredibly scrappy, incredibly dedicated," Jeyifo said. "But we are a stopgap, and what we're doing is not sustainable. It is not sustainable — the work that we are doing and the holes that we are filling."

Are you an abortion fund worker or healthcare provider? Have you had an abortion and are willing to share your story? Reach out to this reporter at allisonkelly@insider.com


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