CHOICES : A Sourcebook of Reproductive Health Care in Maryland

Facts on Abortion

Surgical Abortion1– Surgical abortion is a safe, effective option for ending a pregnancy. The most common method is vacuum aspiration, which is performed in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Suction (from either a machine or a hand-held pump) is used to remove the pregnancy through the cervix (the opening to the uterus). This procedure is very brief, usually lasting 5-15 minutes. Although experiences with surgical abortion vary, many people say that it is "uncomfortable but bearable." Many clinics in Maryland offer intravenous (IV) sedation, which will help you relax and feel comfortable. Some clinics offer general anesthesia that will put you to sleep while the procedure is performed. Your provider will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself after the procedure. Follow those instructions closely. You should leave the clinic with an emergency contact and plans for follow up care and future contraception.
 
Medical Abortion (The Abortion Pill)2– The Abortion Pill, also known as RU-486, mifepristone, or Mifeprex, is another safe and effective method for early abortion. Generally, medical abortion is used in the first 7-9 weeks of pregnancy. A medical abortion uses two medications to end a pregnancy. The first weakens the attachment of the pregnancy to the uterus. The second makes the uterus cramp and causes bleeding, which expels the pregnancy. Within a few hours of taking the medication, you will probably have strong cramps and bleeding, similar to a heavy period. Pain medicine or a heating pad can help with the cramps. You may also have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills or feel tired. These symptoms usually last a short time and stop on their own. It is important to return to the clinic for a follow-up visit to ensure that the abortion is complete.
 
Safety of Abortion – Surgical and medical abortion are very safe medical procedures. Complications from a first-trimester abortion are less frequent and less serious than those associated with childbirth.3 Anti-abortion activists falsely claim abortion increases the risk of developing breast cancer and endangers future childbearing. These claims have been refuted by a significant body of medical research. The National Cancer Institute has concluded "induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk." Opponents of choice also contend that abortion causes "post-abortion syndrome," which they claim has traits similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In August 2008, the American Psychological Association issued a report from a task force on mental health and abortion. The study concluded that women who have an abortion have no greater risk of mental health problems than if they were to carry a pregnancy to term. Safe, uncomplicated abortion does not cause future birth defects, premature birth or low birth weight babies, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or infant death.4
Cost – The cost of both surgical and medical abortion in Maryland ranges from $225 to $3000. Hospitals may be more expensive than clinics. The cost increases depending on the length of pregnancy and the type of anesthesia used.
 
Some clinics will offer financial assistance on a case-by-case basis. You should call the clinic for specific information. Under certain circumstances, public funding for abortion in Maryland is available. More information on public funding and payment options is below.
 
Private insurance plans may cover abortion services. Contact your plan to see if abortion is covered and if a referral is necessary.
 
State Assistance – Maryland has state funds available to those who are eligible for public assistance and meet certain criteria. Funding is available if:
  • Continuing the pregnancy would threaten the patient's life;
  • The patient has been a victim of rape, incest, or sexual assault and has reported it to the police, public health services, or social agency;
  • The fetus is affected by a genetic defect, abnormality, or deformity; or
  • Continuing the pregnancy could have serious adverse effects on the patient's health, including mental health.
These inclusions only apply to Medicaid, and DO NOT apply to the MCHIP Program.
 
Private Assistance – In addition to state funding, private organizations offer assistance to those who cannot afford reproductive health care. Please contact these organizations for more information:
 

National Abortion Federation (NAF) Hotline
(800) 772-9100
Weekdays 8am-9pm; Saturdays 9am-5pm
 
The NAF Hotline is a toll-free source of information about abortion and referrals to providers of quality care in the U.S. and Canada. Services available in English, Spanish, and French. Case management and funding assistance are also available.
 

June Coleman Reproductive Justice Fund
Planned Parenthood of Maryland
(866) 936-7776
 
Eligibility is based on demonstrated financial need. Excludes Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties residents.
 

Justice Fund
Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington
(202) 347-8500
 
Eligibility is based on demonstrated financial need. Fund recipients are usually PPMW patients, but some funding is available for abortions provided elsewhere. Priority is given to teens, new mothers, and ‘welfare to work’ participants. Funds are available to residents of the Metropolitan Washington D.C. area, including Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.
 

DC Abortion Fund
(202) 452-7464
 
To qualify for funds, a patient must demonstrate financial need, be a resident of Maryland, Virginia, or Washington D.C., and be nine weeks or further into the pregnancy. The hotline is a voicemail system. Please leave a message with your basic information and a volunteer will return your call within 24-48 hours. Spanish speaking volunteers are available.
 

Baltimore Abortion Fund
(443) 297-9893

To qualify for funds, a patient must demonstrate financial need, for a resident of Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, or Frederick County. Priority is given to those who are at least 7 weeks along in their pregnancy. The hotline is a voicemail system. Please leave a message with your name, telephone number, whether they can leave a message, how far along you are in your pregnancy, and if you’ve already made an appointment for an abortion (as well as the clinic name and date of appointment). Even if you do not live in one of those counties, they can help you with financial counseling and referrals for other resources.


National Network of Abortion Funds
(617) 524-6040
 
NNAF is a network of over 100 grassroots groups that raise money to directly help patients cover the cost of an abortion and, occasionally, other reproductive health services.
 

Anti-Choice Protesters – Some clinics may have anti-choice protesters outside. Most of these clinics have escorts to help people get inside the facility. You are not obligated to speak to or take anything from the protesters. When making your appointment, ask the clinic staff about what to expect.
Clinic Locations – Nearly all of the abortion providers in Maryland, including hospitals, are concentrated around I-95 corridor between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Although some clinics require at least one visit before performing the abortion, many will perform it on the same day as the first visit. Ask the staff about the clinic's policy regarding the number of visits.
 
Questions you may want to ask before your abortion:
  • What types of abortion are available at this clinic?
  • How is the abortion done?
  • How much will the abortion cost?
  • What kind of payment options do you accept?
  • How soon can I get pregnant again?
  • How long is the recovery time?
  • What can I expect from my body after the abortion?
  • How long should I expect to be at the clinic?
  • Do I need to have someone to drive me home?
  • What are my contraceptive options after the abortion? Do you offer birth control?
  • Who can I contact in case of an emergency?

Beware of Fake Clinics

Across Maryland, there are approximately 50 Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) that work to prevent people from receiving information on and access to the full range of reproductive options.5 While CPCs may provide limited services to those who would like to carry a pregnancy to term, they have been known to discourage people from choosing safe, legal abortion through manipulation and misinformation. In 2007 NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland conducted an investigation into local CPCs and found that centers consistently provided false and misleading information.
For more information, visit the website itslies.org.
 
Crisis Pregnancy Centers often:
  • Advertise free services, especially pregnancy tests and sonograms;
  • List their facilities under "Abortion Alternatives" in the phone book;
  • Encourage women to come in immediately for counseling;
  • Give evasive answers to phone requests for abortion services or referrals;
  • Strongly encourage women to have sonograms, regardless of circumstances;
  • Use religious propaganda and myths about abortion as fear tactics to scare women about abortion;
  • Talk at length about fetal development;
  • Pressure women into choosing abstinence over birth control;
  • Do not provide abortion referrals, even when requested; and
  • Falsely claim that abortion causes long term emotional distress, breast cancer, and can affect future fertility see Safety of Abortion.

  
1. "Safety of Abortion," NAF. www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/facts/safety_of_abortion.html(last visited July 13, 2015).
2. "Mifepristone," NAF. www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/facts/facts_mifepristone.html(last visited July 13, 2015).
3. "Safety of Abortion," NAF. www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/facts/safety_of_abortion.html(last visited July 13, 2015).
4. "Thinking About Abortion," PPFA. www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/pregnancy/abortion-21519.htm (last visited July 13, 2015).
5. For more information, please visit NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland’s web site at www.ProChoiceMaryland.org.
A publication of the NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Fund
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