map of states that require two trips to the clinic

The cost of getting an abortion is higher if you’re poor

the full price of an abortionWhen trying to get an abortion, as in so many things, it’s very expensive to be poor. Using the example of two archetypal women in Wisconsin — one low-income and one middle-income — ThinkProgress calculated the true cost of accessing the procedure. 

Wisconsin — like 18 other states — has less than five abortion clinics and — like 10 other states — requires two trips to the clinic to get an abortion. All told, ThinkProgress estimates that “the process of obtaining an abortion could total up to $1,380 for a low-income single mother saddled with charges related to gas, a hotel stay, childcare, and taking time off work. For a middle-income woman living comfortably in a city with no children and public transit options to the clinic, meanwhile, those fees dropped to $593.” And that’s not even accounting for the fact that the middle-income woman might have insurance that covers the procedure, while the low-income woman’s Medicaid definitely won’t.

RH Reality Check recently calculated that the abortion price tag for a poor woman living in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley is similar: up to $1,599, not to mention a seven-hour round-trip drive. The idea that it is somehow not a serious burden for someone who is living paycheck to paycheck to be forced to — suddenly and entirely unexpectedly — come up with more than a month’s wages is absurd. (I mean, I certainly couldn’t do that without asking my parents for a loan.) And yet that is the reality that our abortion policies have created and, thus far, the courts have decided that it is does not constitute an “undue burden.”

This, despite the fact that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently acknowledged that abortion is becoming “inaccessible to poor women.” That would be considered far more than just a “crying shame” if we lived in a country in which the right to abortion were actually treated as a right, not a privilege.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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