The pro-choice and anti-choice worlds alike have been buzzing with the news of this past week’s FBI/DEA raid of the Women’s Medical Society, a clinic here in Philadelphia that was providing abortions as well as other services in a disgustingly unsanitary and dangerous environment. I commented on this via a letter to the editor in the Philadelphia Inquirer but this topic needs more space than 200 words.
Why do women go to these kinds of clinics where there are reputable, safe abortion services available in other parts of the city? The answer is a complex one, but I can tell you for sure that it has to do with access. The Women’s Medical Society charged an absurdly low fee for abortion services, exploiting women who thought that they wouldn’t be able to get assistance to afford good quality care, or didn’t know that abortion care can and should be safe, just like any other surgical procedure. The services at the Women’s Medical Society were also “a la carte,” meaning that they may have quoted you a low fee for the abortion surgery itself, but then added on extra fees for services such as ultrasound, anesthesia, etc. The low cost was a way to lure in desperate women, deceive them with the promise of a low fee, and then give them the worst kind of abortion care: dangerous and incomplete. Some women had to be hospitalized to have the procedure finished or to deal with complications (or, in that article’s case, death), leaving them thousands of dollars in debt. So much for a “low fee.”
Money should not be a barrier to good quality services. A woman should not have to put her life at risk by having an abortion at a sub-par clinic because she thinks she can’t afford quality care. This is why we need healthcare to cover abortion services. This is why we need to repeal the Hyde Amendment. Money absolutely cannot be a barrier in accessing safe abortion services. This isn’t a matter of politics, it’s a matter of saving women’s lives.
Abortion is one of the safest procedures a woman can have, and we have to keep it that way by enabling women to have access to the best abortion care possible, regardless of their socio-economic status.