Work is already underway on “Girls” Season 5, but star Jemima Kirke just unveiled another new project: a PSA for the Center for Reproductive Rights.
In the PSA, Kirke candidly discusses her decision to obtain an abortion when she unexpectedly became pregnant in college, as well as the barriers she faced.
“Because I couldn’t tell my mother that I was pregnant, I had to pay for it out of pocket. I had to empty my checking account and get some from my boyfriend,” she says. “I realized that if I didn’t take the anesthesia, I would be able to afford to do this. The anesthesia wasn’t that much more, but when you’re scrounging for however many hundreds of dollars, it’s a lot.”
Now a mother of two, Kirke says she made the best decision she could have at the time: “My life was just not conducive to raising a happy, healthy child.”
Unfortunately, Kirke’s story isn’t rare. According to research from the Guttmacher Institute, 3 in 10 women will have an abortion by age 45 and the overwhelming majority of those women are in their 20s. While most of these women have some kind of access to health insurance, 57 percent pay out of pocket either because their insurance doesn’t cover abortion procedures or for privacy concerns.
Kirke had her abortion in 2007, but experts say the current climate for women in the same situation isn’t much better. The Affordable Care Act has made strides toward providing more reproductive care for women, says Gretchen Borchelt, vice president for health and reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center, but it also opened the door for bans on insurance coverage for abortion.
The ACA says that states can decide whether health insurance plans in their jurisdiction will allow abortion, she explains. Twenty-five states have already banned coverage under some forms of health insurance (including state-run health insurance), while 10 states have flat-out prohibited all coverage.
That means a woman can have great health insurance coverage in Oklahoma, but still have to fully pay out of pocket for an abortion because of the state’s ban. (See where your state stands on the issue here.)
“It’s the sad reality that, for a lot of women, when they don’t have that insurance coverage, it means they have to take money away from other necessities like groceries and rent,” Borchelt tells Yahoo Health.
She notes that women who have difficulty affording an abortion typically take longer to get the money they need for the procedure. And the longer it takes to find the money, the further along they are in the pregnancy, which causes the cost of the abortion to increase.
Planned Parenthood says it recognizes that affordability is a major issue for many women seeking an abortion and is working to try to change the status quo. “Insurance plans should cover abortion like other medical procedures, government programs should help low-income women who cannot afford abortion, and nonprofit groups that raise money to help women pay for abortion services should be fully funded,” Eric Ferrero, VP of communications for the organization tells Yahoo Health.
But how much does an abortion actually cost? Here is a breakdown, per the Guttmacher Institute’s most recent data:
- $495: The median charge for a surgical abortion at 10 weeks gestation
- $550: The median charge to have an abortion performed at a physician’s office
- $504: The median charge for an early medication abortion
- $1,350: The median charge for an abortion at 20 weeks gestation, which typically takes two or more days to complete
However, there are several funds available to women who need an abortion and are unable to afford one, such as the National Network of Abortion Funds.
While there are currently several obstacles for women seeking an abortion, many organizations are working to get out the word about the importance of insurance in women’s lives and making sure it covers all aspects. Says Borchelt: “We’re hopeful that if enough people speak out, things will change.”