What It Really Takes to Get an Abortion

By Claire, Communications Intern

Abortion has never been so simple as yes or no.  Barriers have existed since even before Roe v Wade, that keep many women, girls and female bodied-individuals from access to abortion services.  These barriers are growing as more and more extreme anti-choice laws are passed and bills introduced.  Now the Third Wave Foundation has released their Emergency Abortion Fund 2010 Report detailing how difficult it is to obtain a safe, legal abortion.

Key findings from the past year include:

•The vast majority of minors we pledged to were legally required to notify their parents, or obtain consent from them. Of the 148 pledges made to minors, 64 (nearly half) had their abortions in states requiring parental consent, and 47 required parental notification. In addition, 13 minors deemed it necessary to seek a judicial bypass – that is, appealing to a judge to override the parental consent or notification mandate – for their own safety.

85% of pledges were directed towards second trimester procedures. 10% went towards first trimester procedures. 5% of pledges went towards third trimester abortions.

83% of pledges were made to people of color.

49% of pledge recipients had at least one child at the time of their abortion. Of the people with children, the vast majority had no involvement of a partner.

•16% of all pledge recipients were pregnant as a result of rape. Of those pledge recipients, 10% were pregnant as a result of incest. Of the people we funded under the age of 14, 48% disclosed that they were pregnant as a result of rape.

•9% of people we funded told us they were experiencing violence from their partner. Overall, partner involvement was very low; only 15% of pledge recipients had a partner involved. Of those cases where a partner was involved, 57% involved physical violence. Of the 505 people we funded, only 6% had a partner involved who wasn’t physically violent.

•17% of pledge recipients were homeless compared with 10% in 2009 and 6.5% in 2008.

Here is proof of what these anti-choice legislations are doing.  It is becoming impossible for anyone pregnant to obtain an abortion.  These laws are tough on clients and clinics, making it harder for clinics to operate and thus even harder for clients to actually get their abortion in a safe, timely manner.  These new laws will just make pregnancy and abortion more costly, more dangerous and more people seeking abortion will get hurt in the process.

Mandatory waiting periods require overnight stays in hotels for most women, and that time cuts into work time as well.  Women working low-income jobs do not have the time to waste waiting for a legal medical procedure that medically does not need a waiting time.   Likewise, required sonograms are a just another waste of time and money to both client and clinic.  For young women the issue of parental notification and parental consent are especially problematic.  It is not a parent’s decision to force their child to carry to term or terminate a pregnancy.  And yet, parental notification and consent does exactly that.  It removes any control of the situation from the actual pregnant person.  Regardless of age, one should have autonomy over one’s body and future.  On the flip-side, people with children already do not have the time and money to waste on these restrictions because they are trying to care for the children they have.  But the state does not care about this fact.  If the state truly cared about mothers and children, they would not be cutting social service programs to help families survive.  This report shows that at the intersection of race, class, age, gender, ability and sex, those that are pregnant but wish not to be are abandoned and ignored and deprived of a safe, legal and often life-saving medical procedure.     

This is the reality of abortion in America today.


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