Roe v. Wade is overturned. Abortion rights are no longer Constitutionally protected. Say you find that you are pregnant in North Carolina — what happens next?
After finding out you're pregnant, you would first have to consider the political circumstances. Abortion is still legal in North Carolina prior to 20 weeks of conception. Places like Planned Parenthood in Chapel Hill and North Durham Women’s Health could both be options for receiving an abortion.
As of Aug. 17, if you are further than 20 weeks along, North Carolina prohibits abortions after a restrictive law from 1973 was reinstated. The only exception to this ban is when a pregnancy substantially threatens the life or health of the mother. If you don't meet the guidelines set by the state nearly 50 years ago, you are not allowed to make a decision about your own health.
One of the first roadblocks eligible patients have to face is the 72-hour waiting period — one of the longest waiting periods in the country. After receiving mandatory counseling, you must wait three days before your abortion appointment. These waiting periods are not medically necessary, and while they can be used to educate patients on informed consent, they make for numerous visits to the doctor that otherwise would not be needed — all while prolonging the time in which the patient is pregnant when they do not want to be.
Finding rides and arranging these appointments around our already busy schedules is not an easy task. Aside from finding transportation that coincides with a clinic's availability, the costs of the abortion procedure itself can add up to an already lengthy bill.
Some insurance policies cover abortions, but others might require you to pay out of pocket. Medicaid – a national insurance policy for low-income individuals – is limited in its ability to cover abortions, thanks to the Hyde Amendment. This statute prevents federal Medicaid funds from being used to cover abortion.
Medication abortions, typically consisting of two pills, can cost between $350 and $650. In-clinic abortions, by contrast, can cost upwards of $1,000 within six-to-twelve weeks of gestation.
Some young people may not want to use insurance if they fall under their parents’ policy. Additionally, parental consent is required in N.C. for pregnant people under 18 years old, posing yet another obstacle for someone with an unwanted pregnancy.
Finding a clinic that will perform an abortion can be extremely stressful in and of itself. This struggle increases significantly when you live in a rural area.
Currently, N.C. has only 14 abortion clinics. These clinics are centralized around metropolitan areas and spread across only nine out of 100 counties. This leaves a majority of the population without adequate resources in their county, forcing them to travel far distances to the nearest clinic.
Having an unwanted pregnancy already takes a huge toll on one’s mental well-being. Having to plan, budget and travel several hours within the 20-week limit only amplifies that stress. Some can’t afford the time or the cost of travel. There is a massive accessibility gap across the state, and rural areas are hit the hardest.
If you are a transgender man or nonbinary person who can get pregnant, your journey to getting an abortion becomes even more entangled. It is a bit ironic that the South is home to the highest concentration of transgender individuals, as well as some of the most restrictive laws on abortion. Finding an abortion clinic that is both accepting and able to provide abortions to more than just cisgender women is next to impossible.
We won't sugarcoat it – we are in a bleak situation. Having an unwanted pregnancy in North Carolina has gotten far more complicated than it should be, and the repercussions could be dire for many people who can become pregnant. The reality is scary, and feelings of unease are valid as we navigate unprecedented times.
There are mutual aid funds and databases, such as the National Network of Abortion Funds, that provide aid and support for those navigating unwanted pregnancies. They are doing the heavy lifting for abortion rights, where our institutions have failed us.
It's time for our legislative and judicial systems to grapple with this harsh reality that people who can get pregnant face every day in a post-Roe world. We cannot turn a blind eye to the brutal reality of our situation.
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