Apparently Women in D.C. Have Really Pricey Abortions

I don’t know about you, but I breathed a huge sigh of relief on Saturday morning. The government shutdown was averted, without sacrificing Planned Parenthood! Yay, bullet dodged!

… and then I learned that that bullet was actually headed straight for pregnant, low-income women in the District of Columbia. Because not only did House Speaker John Boehner want to limit government funding for Planned Parenthood and other nonprofits that provide abortion services, he also wanted to restrict funding on abortions in D.C. So a compromise was worked out: D.C. funding was cut, but the funds to nonprofits were safe.

Look, I get that an argument can be made for this outcome. Planned Parenthood and other nonprofits serve a huge number of men and women, and can now continue to do this very necessary work. And to take even more of a “greater good” perspective – if the government actually had shut down last weekend, hundreds of thousands of people would have been affected, and D.C. would have essentially come to a halt. As a proud resident of the District of Columbia, I’m really glad that we’ll continue to have things like trash pick-up and parking enforcement, and that the businesses in my neighborhood that depend on the income of government workers won’t suffer.

But this is just one more example of politicians using women’s health as a bargaining chip, and that is reprehensible. The program in question, which uses the District’s own funds to assist women that need abortions, has long been controversial; Republicans had previously banned such assistance when they controlled Congress. In 2009, a Democrat-controlled Congress revoked the ban, but it wasn’t as if funding started immediately that year. Clinics had to work out contracts with insurance providers – not a quick process – so, according to Tiffany Reed, president of the DC Abortion Fund, it has only been relatively recently that women could even use this assistance.

Given that the money would cover the cost of a procedure in the District – which generally ranges from $300 to $500 – it’s hard to believe that cutting this program will really save that much money. Rather, this is a triumph of ideology over economy, and it is low-income women and families that will suffer for it. As Charlotte Taft of the Abortion Care Network put it, “… once again women are on their own and even women who are the poorest of the poor are on their own for very, very essential and basic health care options.”

For more information on supporting local funds, please visit the National Network of Abortion Funds. If you would like to learn more about the DC Abortion Fund, which assists women in the District, Maryland, and Virginia, their website is here.


About Sarah:
Sarah's first book, Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement, will be out March 2013. For more information, follow her on Twitter @saraherdreich, or check out


  1. I love the way you put this “a triumph of ideology over economy.” Because really, isn’t that what almost every bill passed to push back women’s reproductive rights about? If you check out Nicholas Kristof’s recent article, he notes that:

    “In the United States, publicly financed family planning prevented 1.94 million unwanted pregnancies in 2006, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health. The result of those averted pregnancies was 810,000 fewer abortions, the institute said.”

    Prevention rather than treatment, haven’t we learned this yet? Planned Parenthood is not about abortion, it’s about reproductive health and everything that comes with it, including contraception.

    • Thanks, Juliana – though alas, I can’t take credit for the ideology/economy line! I heard that at the Planned Parenthood rally last week and absolutely loved it.

  2. Thanks for highlighting this, Sarah. It’s been completely ignored by the mainstream media and all of the celebrations of the Planned Parenthood funding.

    • It has been – although I’ve noticed that since D.C.’s mayor was arrested earlier this week at a rally protesting both the funding cut and other issues, now suddenly the mainstream media is paying attention!

  3. carol lynn says:

    Wow your website blows me away!! What if your child was going to develop the next cure for Cancer? Or if your child might be the next president of the United States? Would you think differently…thoughts to ponder…

    Pregnancy is a GIFT one and four women can’t even get pregnant!! Women pay $100,000 of thousands of dollars to try to have a baby naturally. They go through painful shots for 3 months with the hopes they might get pregnant. It usually takes two to three times for it to stick or alot of times it does not work.

    Would you take a different perspective if you realized it is a GIFT to get pregnant?? thoughts to ponder…..

    • Yeah, but what if your child decides to rape or kill some one. What if your child decided go on a shooting rampage? What if your child decides to become a drug dealer? What if your child becomes a wife/husband beater? That’s a thing about potential. It can go good or bad, either way.

      Yes, Pregnancy is a gift and yes it is sad that some women can not bring a baby in the world and want them. But there are many children brought in this world not wanted and sometimes that gift can be a danger to a woman’s health and cause damage to her. There are children brought into this world and put into foster cares because the women who birthed them did not want them, couldnot care for them, or did not give a damn about them either way. Just because some women do not have the choice, does not mean all women should not have the choice. Thoughts to ponder…

  4. carol lynn says:

    What is amazing does anyone even realize Margaret Sanger started planned parenthood. If you look into her history she was a black racist communist who wanted to extingish the african american race. So she thought promoting abortions would be the easiest way to do that. So why are the majority of planned parenthood facilities in minority neighborhoods??? It seems they have continued top pass on her belief system…thoughts to ponder….

    • Ponder this thought, Carol . . . it’s a myth that everyone wants to become pregnant and/or be a mother. Also, we have addressed the arguments about Margaret Sanger in many other posts. You are welcome to use our search feature to read those articles.

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