In a perfect the world, access to abortion would be easy. The moment you realized you needed an abortion, you would be able to grab some abortion pills from the pharmacy or book an appointment with your regular gynecologist for a quick and easy vacuum aspiration. But we do not live in a perfect world. In today’s America, access to abortion can be impossible and crowded at best: even in “safe” states like California and New York, abortion pills are severely restricted and can be quite expensive. And since few gynecologists offer abortion services out of their private practice, you need to find a specialized clinic – which can be a challenging process, especially since many anti-abortion “crisis maternity centers” are easy to confuse with actual abortion providers.
And scary enough, things only get worse. Across the country, expansive bans like Texas’ Senate Bill 8 have made abortion functionally inaccessible; now that the US Supreme Court is overthrowing Roe v. Wade, access is disappearing in almost half of America. No one is safe from these bans: Even if abortion rights are legally protected in your home state, an influx of patients from other states is likely to tax an already congested system, making it difficult to get agreements.
All of this is exacerbated by a general truth about abortion: Most people do not actually think about how to get one until they are faced with an unwanted pregnancy. But that’s something you can change. One of the best things you can do in our post-Roe the world is to know your options in advance and make an abortion access plan long before you need one – and share that information with others so they too can be prepared.
Which abortion method is right for me?
There are two main types of abortion, surgical and medical (also known as medication abortion or abortion with pills). A surgical abortion is performed by a trained professional who uses techniques such as vacuum aspiration or dilation and curettage (D&C) to empty the contents of a uterus. In a medical abortion, a combination of pills (either mifepristone and misoprostol or misoprostol alone) is used to induce abortion. There are pros and cons to each method. A surgical abortion requires traveling to a clinic, but it is quickly over. A medical abortion can be performed anywhere, but it usually takes a few days before the abortion is complete. In addition, not everyone can have an abortion with pills: If you have a bleeding disorder, a spiral, or need an abortion later in pregnancy, a surgical abortion may be your safest bet.
Your abortion plan is going to look different depending on whether you choose a surgical or medication abortion, so it’s good to learn about both and decide early on which solution feels best for you. If you able to do a medication abortion, it may be the better choice; as abortion clinics become flooded with clients, waiting times for appointments increase. The longer you wait to have an abortion, the more complicated and expensive it can become. Ultimately a medication abortion now may be a better option than a surgical abortion in a few weeks – even if a surgical abortion would be your first choice in an ideal scenario.
Where is my nearest abortion provider?
If you choose a surgical abortion, your first stop should be Abortion Finder, a database of hundreds of trusted and verified abortion providers in the United States. Unlike Google, which sometimes pops up anti-abortion organizations when you search for an abortion clinic, Abortion Finder will only show you actual abortion providers along with the relevant abortion laws in that state. If you live in a state with severe abortion restrictions, Abort Finders filters allow you to find the nearest clinic that meets your needs – a clinic that does not require a waiting period, one that will provide an abortion after six weeks, or whatever you might be looking for.
If a medication abortion is a good option for you, there are even more resources available. While you can go to a physical clinic to get your abortion pills, research have repeatedly shown Taking these pills at home, alone, is as safe as taking them in the presence of a doctor. Plan C maintains a large database of verified abortion pill providers, including both telesealth services that provide support through the abortion process and online pharmacies that send you the pills without further support.
What if abortion is illegal in my state?
Even though abortion is illegal wherever you are, abortion with pills is still an option. If you are able to travel to a state where abortion is legal, a telecommunications health service can send you the pills there. And if you are not able to travel, the European site AidAccess will connect you with an Indian pharmacy that sends abortion pills to all 50 US states, regardless of abortion laws. Because abortion is time sensitive and the process of getting pills shipped from India can take a few weeks, AidAccess is also willing to prescribe abortion pills to people who are not currently pregnant should they need them in the future. That’s right: you can go to AidAccess and get abortion pills right now. (How is it to plan ahead?)
Anything else I should know?
Although an abortion with pills is incredibly safe, walking alone can be daunting. Fortunately, a number of websites have been set up to guide people through the process of self-administering an abortion with pills. How to use abortion pill and Self-directed abortion; Safe and supported offer everything you need to know about both mifepristone-misoprostol and misoprostol-only abortions. There is also Reprocare Healthline, which offers peer-based, trauma-informed emotional support to anyone who has an abortion at home with pills. And although self-directed abortion with pills is medical For sure, it is important to know that it can come with legal risks, especially if you live in a state where abortion is illegal. That Repro legal guide is a free, confidential guide that provides information and advice to individuals seeking to self-administer their abortions. And if you end up in trouble, Repro Legal Defense Fund provides bail and legal defense to persons who have been investigated, arrested or prosecuted for self-directed abortion.
No matter what kind of abortion you get, it will probably cost you money – not just the abortion itself, but potentially travel expenses as well. If you can put money aside for a future abortion, great! However, since many people choose abortion because of financial problems, it is not necessarily a realistic option. Abortion funds can provide help. The National Network of Abortion Funds will connect you to an organization that will help you sort out your financial and logistical needs and do everything they can to remove the barriers between you and your abortion. (Do you want to support access to abortion? Donate to abortion funds is a good idea – as it is donate to independent clinics.)
Everyone deserves easy access to a safe abortion at an affordable price. There is no doubt that the United States is on the wrong track and that the abandonment of abortion rights will unnecessarily harm many pregnant women. But if you need an abortion, know that you are not alone. There are many, many people and services that are willing and eager to help you get the care you need. The biggest obstacle is knowing where to find them – and you’re just overcome it.