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What Factors are Involved in the Cost of an Abortion?

Lainie Petersen
By Lainie Petersen
Updated May 17, 2024
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The cost of an abortion is determined by a number of factors, including the type of facility in which the procedure is performed, the fees of the practitioner performing the abortion, and the length of the pregnancy. Other factors might include the type of abortion performed, the cost of treating complications, and the type of anesthesia used during the abortion. Geographical factors can also affect the cost of an abortion as well as a patient's financial circumstance and whether or not she has health insurance.

Laws governing abortion differ significantly between countries and sometimes even within a country. In some places, an abortion can be performed in a doctor's office, a free-standing clinic or outpatient health center, or in a hospital. Abortions performed in a hospital are generally more expensive than those performed in a clinic or doctor's office, though women with health problems or those undergoing a late-term abortion may have no choice but to use a hospital for their abortion.

Abortions that take place in the first trimester of pregnancy are generally less expensive than those completed in the second or third trimester. This is because the procedures for a first trimester abortion are fairly straightforward, whereas abortions performed later in a pregnancy require more complex procedures and medical care. For example, in a second-term abortion, a woman must usually visit the clinic or hospital twice — once to begin the process of dilating her cervix and a second time to complete the abortion. Women who abort early in their pregnancies may also have the option of a medical or chemical abortion, which involves taking a combination of medicines, rather than undergoing a surgical procedure, which can also reduce the cost of an abortion.

Many women choose some form of anesthesia or pain relief while undergoing an abortion. Anesthesia choices range from a local anesthetic injected into the cervix combined with an oral pain medication or tranquilizer to general anesthesia. The cost of anesthesia as well as a specialist to administer it and monitor its effects can considerably increase the cost of an abortion.

Another factor is the healthcare practitioner who performs the abortion itself. In some places, only medical doctors can perform abortion services, while other places allow nurse-midwives, nurse-practitioners, and physician's assistants to administer medical abortion drugs or perform first-trimester abortions. The services of a medical doctor are typically more expensive than those of other types of healthcare workers.

In some countries, the cost of an abortion is covered by national health insurance. In countries that do not have national health programs, some private health insurance programs will cover some or all of an abortion's cost. Some abortion services also will discount the cost of an abortion to students or those who can prove they live on a low income. In some cities, private charities will help pay the cost of an abortion for a woman in deep financial need.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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