Best Safe and Legal Abortion Options in NYC
So. You’re in New York City. You’re pregnant. And you’d like to stop being pregnant.
There are a number of ways you could have gotten here, and a number of ways you could feel about it. You could be single or partnered, younger or older, someone who already has kids or someone who doesn’t. You could have been using protection or not. You could have struggled with the decision, or never batted an eye, or landed in one of the many, many spaces between. For whatever reason, you found yourself pregnant and wanting to end the pregnancy. About one out of four pregnant women worldwide have at some point found themselves in your place.
Well, you’re in luck, because despite the current political climate all but threatening to go straight up Handsmaid Tale on our reproductive rights, fortunately, the state of New York believes you’re more than a brood cow and you have the right to bodily autonomy. This includes choosing when (if ever) you want to reproduce–which means now, you have the right to a safe, legal abortion. Respecting women’s right to control what happens to their own bodies, at least in this one sense, FTW!
First things first, it’s important to re-iterate this: you have a legal right to obtain an abortion, with no mandatory waiting period, in the state of New York.
The New York State Patients’ Bill of Rights clearly grants you the right to participate in decisions regarding your treatment, to give informed consent, to receive treatment without discrimination, and to privacy while receiving care. Your access to a clinic is also protected by state laws, including the New York State Clinic Access Act (which prohibits acts of force, written, or verbal threats of force, as well as certain types of physical obstruction outside clinics), and the NYC-specific Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act, which prohibits any activities or attempted activities preventing access to reproductive healthcare facilities.
Basically, if anyone tries to block your access to an abortion or fucks with your right to get into a clinic, they’re breaking the law, so take no shit.
You also have access to abortion regardless of your age: even if you are under 18, you are not required to notify or get permission from a parent/guardian.
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There is, unfortunately, one legal conditional on your right to abortion in New York. Though all abortions up to 24-weeks into pregnancy are legal, abortions after 24 weeks are illegal unless they are performed for the sake of “saving your life.” What this means is entirely subject to the discretion of your doctor. However, it gets much more difficult–and more dangerous–to obtain an abortion after 24 weeks, so the best bet is always to set up an abortion as soon as possible.
In most cases, abortions can be performed as early as an EPT pregnancy test shows positive (so at around 5 to 6 weeks gestation, which usually means when your period is around two weeks late).
Though obviously, the decision to abort might be tough to make (or might be cost-prohibitive, but we’ll go into that later), and therefore a time ban is problematic as hell, it’s what we’re working with. So, sooner rather than later.
Okay, so now that you know you have the right to an abortion, how do you go about, you know, getting an abortion?
- If you have a regular OB/GYN, she may either perform abortions herself or direct you to someone who does, but if you find yourself in the tough spot of having a doctor who decides to not actually do her job and offer you care and refuses to perform an abortion, or refer you to a doctor who will, there are other options (and you should seriously consider getting another OB/GYN).
- Finding a provider. A number of sites that will direct you to your closest abortion provider. Planned Parenthood, The National Abortion Federation, Abortionfunds.org, and the New York State Government all have provider locators, which list both public and private practices. Believe it or not, Yelp is actually a pretty great resource for figuring out who’s good and who’s not, which finally makes it actually useful and not just a place for entitled white people to whine. (Zocdoc is good, too, but less patently crowd-sourced. Neither is foolproof, but still.)
- Dealing with cost. Once you actually find a place and book an appointment, there’s the issue–a serious issue for many of us who are regularly broke–of paying for it. A first-trimester abortion without insurance (both surgical and medical) will generally run you between $400-$600, while second-trimester abortions can run around $1,500–which is a really big financial hit to take for many, especially unexpectedly.
Thankfully, there are organizations and institutions set up to actually make abortion more accessible, even to women who can’t hack it out-of-pocket.
Your first option is insurance. I know we might be heading into fucked to shit waters when it comes to insurance, so who knows, maybe this will all be null and void by the time you read this, but as it stands now, here’s the deal. If you have insurance in the State of New York, it is highly probable that your plan offers abortion coverage.
If you don’t have insurance and you qualify for Medicaid, SIGN THE FUCK UP.
This is a good idea for many reasons, but right now it’s a good idea because Medicaid can cover the full cost of your abortion. Many clinics, especially Planned Parenthood clinics and Community Health Centers, can sign you up for Medicaid the same day you make your appointment, and some have a healthcare navigator on staff who will help you through the process. By law, Medicaid covers abortion services (from any Medicaid-accepting provider) at no extra cost to you and without needing a referral.
This is despite the fact that the Hyde Amendment, an anti-choice piece of legislative garbage, prohibits any federal money to be used for abortion outside of incest, rape, and life-endangerment. The State of NY has your back on this one, and ponies up state dollars. Now is a pretty good time to be thankful you don’t live in one of the 25 states that have a state-level ban on abortion coverage.
If you don’t have insurance and don’t qualify for Medicaid, there’s a possibility that you may be able to enroll in a Qualified/Market Health Plan. However, not all of these health plans cover abortion (though most do), and there are limited enrollment periods. If you look on the NY State Healthcare website, you should find the relevant info. In any case, though, there’s a chance you’re going to have a hard time getting insured quickly enough, which means it’s helpful to explore other options.
Because real access to abortion means making them as cost-accessible as possible, there are multiple area-specific funds that provide financial aid for abortions. Think of it as an abortion scholarship.
- New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF): The NYAAF is the primary source of full and partial abortion funding. They will ask you about your situation (financially, domestically, etc), and will try and rally funds for you however they can.
- National Abortion Federation Hotline: The NAF hotline offers unbiased information about the abortion process, abortion providers, and connections to financial aid through a variety of sources.
- Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project: WRRAP works nationally on a case-by-case basis, specifically with poor and disadvantaged women, to connect people seeking an abortion with pre-screened clinics and funds for those clinics.
Though abortion funds exist, they’re often strapped for resources, so you’re going to want to contact as many as possible in case you can’t get funding right away. More funds can be found at abortionfunds.org, as well as at local Planned Parenthood health centers.
Unfortunately, these options will not cover everyone, and an abortion might need to be paid for, in part or in whole, out of pocket.
These people will work with you and for you to get you access to your reproductive rights.
Power to bodily autonomy!