When a woman chooses an abortion to terminate an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, she may need to pay for it out-of-pocket since some health insurance companies do not pay for abortion services. On top of the emotional stress about the decision and the physical stress from pregnancy’s least-charming attribute, morning sickness, the financial stress can take its toll on a woman. Knowing what to expect can help ease that worry.
In early pregnancy, a woman can choose from an abortion that takes place in a clinic or a medical abortion to terminate the pregnancy. A medical abortion is also called “the abortion pill,” but it is actually three pills given on one day, and two pills are given three days later. A clinical abortion terminates a pregnancy in a doctor’s office under local anesthesia by opening the cervix, the opening to the womb or uterus, and removing the contents of the uterus, including the pregnancy, through the vagina. In early pregnancy, the cost of an abortion is similar whether the woman prefers a medical or clinical abortion and can range from a few hundred dollars to nearly $1,000, depending on the clinic, the woman’s situation and the area where she lives.
An early abortion is one performed up to 16 weeks after the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period. An in-clinic abortion procedure, known as aspiration, can be performed throughout that time, as early as the woman knows she’s pregnant and the pregnancy can be confirmed by ultrasound. A clinician must confirm the pregnancy with ultrasound or a physical examination before preforming the abortion to ensure that emptying the uterus will terminate it, and the pregnancy isn’t ectopic, taking place outside the uterus, which can threaten a woman’s life if untreated.
A medical abortion can take place up to nine weeks after the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period. The date may need to be verified by ultrasound imaging to make sure the pregnancy isn’t further along than the woman suspects since a medical abortion won’t be effective in longer pregnancies.
Beyond early pregnancy, abortions cost more because the procedure is more complicated. The cost increases approximately $100 per week after the first trimester, and some clinics may require additional testing or procedure add-ons that increase the cost in later abortions, such as ultrasounds, added anesthesia or medications.
Although many clinical abortions can be performed with only local anesthesia, which numbs the area where the doctor is working to reduce the pain, some women may prefer, or the abortion procedures may require, that the woman be sedated or put to sleep during the procedure. Although local anesthesia is generally included in the cost of an abortion, other types of anesthesia, such as IV sedation, are extra. General anesthesia costs even more and may require a longer stay at the hospital or clinic which may also increase the total cost.
Both medical and clinical abortions can terminate, safely and effectively, early pregnancies. Although complications are rare, when they occur, they can increase the cost of the abortion. Side effects to medical or clinical abortions, include infection, excess bleeding, and rarely, injury to the uterus or vagina. Serious complications may require medical treatment or a hospital stay and can increase costs up to several hundred dollars or more. Sometimes, not all tissue is removed during the initial abortion and a second procedure is required.
A medical abortion allows the woman to terminate her pregnancy without anesthesia in the privacy of her own home. The cost is approximately equal to a clinical abortion, because a pre-abortion appointment and a follow-up to ensure the pregnancy has been completely terminated are required. A medical abortion effectively terminates pregnancy up to 95 percent of the time. In rare cases, however, the woman will need a clinical abortion to complete the termination. If a clinical termination is needed as a result of a failed medical abortion, the cost will increase because the woman must pay for the clinical abortion also.
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