Content warning: This article contains detailed information about abortion-related care, as well as mention of sexual assault.
Following the passing of Texas’ Senate Bill 8 — a bill that bans abortion after six weeks — it is clearer than ever before: Abortion is essential, time-sensitive health care. The crusade against reproductive rights in the United States is longstanding, and the legacy of Roe v. Wade may slip away from us.
Though North Carolina recently (and thankfully!) had similar abortion bans of our own struck down, it doesn’t make the process any less disheartening. While abortion may not be off limits, a switchboard of unnecessarily convoluted, confusing and arbitrary restrictions comes along with it.
These restrictions disproportionately affect patients of color, lower-income patients and patients living in rural parts of the state. For example, 91 percent of North Carolina counties do not have an abortion provider.
While the road to free, accessible health care may be arduous, there is still a plethora of options available to you if you’ve decided to terminate your pregnancy. Keeping this information transparent, public and accessible is essential for supporting abortion access for all students at UNC.
Know your rights and options.
Abortion providers in North Carolina are required to read a state-mandated script prior to your procedure, and you must undergo an ultrasound before your procedure. This process may be traumatic or anxiety-inducing — know that there are plenty of support options post-abortion if you’re looking for help.
This script is required to be read to you 72 hours prior to your procedural appointment, so you’ll need to schedule multiple visits with your abortion provider.
If you’re under 18, you must obtain parental consent from a parent or guardian prior to obtaining an abortion. If parental consent is not an option for you, you can legally get a judicial bypass to obtain an abortion. The Carolina Abortion Fund and the ACLU of North Carolina have partnered to offer a text helpline for patients who need help getting a judicial bypass — you can do so by texting “ABBY” to (844) 997-2229.
Health plans offered under the state’s Affordable Care Act can only cover abortion in cases of life endangerment or sexual assault. Financing options are available to you at multiple clinics if your insurance will not cover abortion.
There are two types of procedures you can choose from: medication abortion (also known as the “abortion pill”) or in-clinic abortion. The abortion pill is offered up to 11 weeks after the start of your last period and can be taken in the clinic or at home. If you opt for medication abortion, you’ll need to follow up within one to two weeks to make sure your abortion is complete and that you’re feeling well. After your abortion pill visit, you’ll need phone and transportation access, as well as backup medical care available to you once you are home.
In-clinic abortion is offered up to 19 weeks and six days after the start of your last menstrual period. If you decide to take medication to help make your in-clinic abortion more comfortable, you’ll need to have a companion with you to help you get home safely.
If you are more than 15 weeks pregnant, your in-clinic abortion may require multiple visits. If you need specialized care — such as an abortion later in pregnancy (after 20 weeks) — you can talk to your provider or call the National Abortion Federation hotline at (800) 772-9100 or its referral line at (877) 257-0012.
Know your financial options.
In North Carolina, anti-choice lawmakers have passed a number of laws that prohibit much public insurance and some private insurance from covering abortion care. However, there are clinic, community and state funds available to you in order to access the help you need.
The Carolina Abortion Fund is a nonprofit that serves the Carolinas by providing grants that fill the gap between what patients can afford and the full cost of the procedure. You can call or text their free, confidential hotline at (855) 518-4603.
Both the UNC School of Medicine — an on-campus resource — and Planned Parenthood take insurance and offer discounted rates for patients without insurance, as well as offer financial assistance.
Schedule your appointment.
Triangle clinics include Planned Parenthood South Atlantic (Chapel Hill), North Durham Women’s Health (Durham), A Preferred Women’s Health Center (Raleigh) and A Woman’s Choice (Raleigh).
If you’re looking for an on-campus provider, the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology offers surgical abortion and abortion services for women with pregnancies complicated by medical conditions, as well as pre- and post-procedure counseling.
Remember: Abortion is health care, and you deserve to have your procedure done in a secure environment. Research any community clinics before going.
When you arrive for your appointment, you may see anti-abortion protesters holding medically inaccurate, inflammatory and/or shaming signage. They may even be wearing medical scrubs or traffic control vests, taunting you or trying to redirect you to the wrong location. You are not obligated to engage with them in any way.
There will often be clinic volunteers who will escort you to and from the clinic. They might be wearing vests that say “Clinic Escorts” or something else that identifies them as helpers. Make sure to ask your provider in office or over the phone about how to spot a volunteer. Your clinic escort will guide you to the parking lot and escort you into and out of the clinic. If you can, make sure to bring a trusted companion along with you before and after your procedure to drive you home.
Connect to post-procedure support options — or give back.
For female students, the Carolina Women’s Center offers aid in the form of emotional, social, medical and legal support — from prolonged class absences to connecting students to affordable therapists for additional support. The UNC Medical Center’s OB-GYN department offers pre- and post-procedure counseling as well.
The state requires abortion clinics to meet unnecessary and burdensome standards related to their physical space, equipment and staffing.
Whether you’ve been personally helped by a clinic, know someone who was, or simply want to lend a hand, clinics in the Triangle — and across the country — need your support.
You can donate to the aforementioned Carolina Abortion Fund, make a gift to Planned Parenthood or donate to the Triangle Abortion Access Coalition. If you’d like to give your time, consider volunteering at a clinic as an escort, offering your services to a friend who needs a companion or getting involved in political action.
Since January, lawmakers have filed nine bills that would impact abortion access across North Carolina, from heartbeat acts to filing abortion under “eugenics.” You can volunteer with TAAC, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina or the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
A better world includes everyone getting the health care they need. Now is the time to take action.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.