Finding an Abortion Provider
Although abortion has been legal in all states since 1973, accessibility depends on which state you live in, how far away you are from a provider, how much money you have or what your insurance will cover, and how far along you are in your pregnancy. Eighty-seven percent of U.S. counties have no abortion provider.7
Most abortions are provided by freestanding clinics. Some specialize in abortion exclusively, while others provide a range of reproductive health care services.
Fewer than 5 percent of abortions are performed in hospitals. Over the past twenty years, the number of hospitals providing abortions has decreased—from 1,405 in 1982 to only 610 in 2008.8 While only a small number of abortions are performed in hospitals, the impact of the decrease is greatest on women in rural areas, low-income women who depend on hospitals for health care, and women whose health requires hospital services. It also reduces the opportunities for training new health care providers to perform abortions.
The resources below can help you find an abortion provider and/or help with funding an abortion.
- Planned Parenthood, plannedparenthood.org, enables you to search by zip code or state for Planned Parenthood clinics that provide abortions, including those that provide abortions after the first trimester. You can also call Planned Parenthood at 1-800-230-PLAN.
- The National Abortion Federation (NAF) Hotline provides referrals to member clinics in the United States, Canada, and Mexico City: 1-877-257-0012. For information about abortion and other resources, including financial assistance, call NAF’s other hotline number: 1-800-772-9100. You can also visit NAF online: prochoice.org.
- The National Network of Abortion Funds, fundabortionnow.org, maintains local funds in most states that can provide referrals, offer help with funding, or help identify sources of funding.
When looking for a clinic or provider, watch out for “crisis pregnancy centers,” often listed as “abortion alternatives.” These centers often draw women in by offering free pregnancy testing or ultrasounds and advertise themselves as counseling and referral agencies. In reality they are run by groups opposed to abortion. They are not staffed by trained health care providers, and they try to dissuade women from having abortions by giving misleading and inaccurate information. For example, they may tell you that the pregnancy is further along than it really is or that abortions are dangerous and cause breast cancer and/or infertility (they don’t; see “Frequently Asked Questions,” p. 318, for more information). Such centers are often located close to clinics that do provide abortions and have similar names.
Also steer clear of websites that claim to sell pills for abortion. While one type of abortion, medication abortion, uses pills to induce abortion, there are unfortunately many websites that will send fake pills or charge your credit card and send nothing. Contact the resources above to get honest information about medication abortion.
|Frequently Asked Questions
Women and the public in general are exposed to a great deal of misinformation about abortion. In some cases, abortion rights opponents have intentionally spread myths. What follows are the facts.
- Is having an abortion safe? Having an abortion is safe, and very few women experience complications. Having an abortion poses fewer risks to a woman than going through pregnancy and birth.
- Will having an abortion affect my ability to get pregnant in the future? Uncomplicated abortion poses virtually no risk to a woman’s future reproductive health, as shown by numerous studies. Very rarely, serious pelvic infection can cause damage to the fallopian tubes, which can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy or fertility problems. You can decrease this risk by seeking prompt treatment if symptoms of infection occur.
- Does having an abortion increase my risk of breast cancer? No. In 2003, the National Cancer Institute convened a workshop of more than a hundred experts from around the world to evaluate the research. These experts concluded that “induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.”9
- Do women who have had an abortion suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, “post-abortion syndrome” (PAS), or “post-abortion stress syndrome” (PASS)? No. In spite of claims by abortion rights opponents that women who have abortions are at risk of PAS or PASS, no such syndrome is recognized by any mainstream professional organization.10 In fact, studies have shown that women most frequently report relief, positive emotions, and decreased stress after an abortion.11 Some women also feel sadness and loss after an abortion, as well as anger, confusion, shame, and guilt, even when they know they’ve made the best decision. Abortion is not associated with long-term psychological distress.12
Excerpted from the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. © 2011, Boston Women's Health Book Collective.
7. Jones and Kooistra, “Abortion Incidence and Access to Services in the United States, 2008,” Perspectives
on Sexual and Reproductive Health 43, no. 1 (2011): 41–50.
9. National Cancer Institute, “Summary Report: Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop,” March 4, 2003, www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/causes/ere/workshop-report.
10. G. E. Robinson et al., “Is There an ‘Abortion Trauma Syndrome’? Critiquing the Evidence,” Harvard Review of Psychiatry 17, no. 4 (2009): 268–90.
11. Brenda Major et al., “Psychological Responses of Women After First-Trimester Abortion,” Archives of General Psychiatry 57 (2000): 777–84.
12. APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, Report of the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2008).
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