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Louisianans are paying more than $2K to get abortions post-Roe, according to abortion rights groups

Center for Reproductive Rights
A photo of the Hope Medical Group for Women abortion clinic in Shreveport, which closed shortly after the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade put into effect Louisiana's abortion ban.

The cost of an abortion has skyrocketed in the wake of Louisiana’s near-total abortion ban, costing many patients more than $2,000 and forcing them to travel 1,900 miles round trip, according to abortion rights groups.

The New Orleans Abortion Fund (NOAF), which helps people pay for and access abortions, is giving its clients on average $723 toward the cost of an abortion and $1,620 to cover travel, food, flights, hotels and other costs in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

“The actual dollar amount that it requires to get somebody to take care of childcare, to take care of transportation, to take care of meals — it's just kind of mind-blowing,” said Tyler Barbarin, a board member of the New Orleans Abortion Fund.

The travel requirement also means it’s taking longer for clients to get their abortions, said A.J. Haynes, NOAF’s board chair.

In 2021, before the state’s ban took effect, NOAF gave clients an average $308 toward the cost of an abortion and even less toward the cost of travel.

Clients in 2021 still had to travel to obtain an abortion. The vast majority of Louisiana parishes lacked abortion care, and the state had just three clinics, pushing some NOAF clients to travel to clinics in nearby states — but the distance was far shorter: about 160 miles round trip.

That travel distance was in part a result of a Louisiana law that required abortion patients to make two trips to a clinic in order to get a procedure.

“Abortion access has never really been easy or simple,” Barbarin said.

But now, parts of the South and Midwest have wiped abortion access off the map, and NOAF clients are traveling much further, often to Illinois and California. One client traveled 4,920 miles round trip.

Haynes said many clients are likely choosing to travel not necessarily to the closest clinic, but to the city where they feel safest and have the most support from family or friends. Patients might also choose the clinic with the soonest available appointment, amid an onslaught of patients to clinics in states where abortions are legal.

NOAF regularly partners with 17 clinics across the country. It’s part of the National Network of Abortion Funds and the National Abortion Federation, both of which help abortion funds and clinics across the country work together to support clients traveling for abortions.

Before the abortion ban, NOAF’s clients were majority Black or African American, more than half were already parents, and most had either Medicaid or were without health insurance — a factor that mirrors pregnancy in Louisiana, where 60% of births are covered by Medicaid. Barbarin said the dramatic spike in the cost and the increased logistics of getting an abortion could lead to a greater range of people reaching out for help.

“I would venture to guess that more people of all backgrounds and tax brackets will be needing us,” Barbarin said.

NOAF, a nonprofit, relies on donations to help fund abortions. It received an influx of funding in June after the Supreme Court decision, but Haynes said it could use more support.

“We could do more with more,” she said.

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, the Planned Parenthood affiliate that covers Louisiana and Texas, has also launched a service to help connect patients with abortions out of state in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

It hired two patient navigators who are handling 50 calls a day from people in Texas and Louisiana.

It’s not clear how many Louisianans have traveled for abortions in recent months. NOAF did not have that data available to share, but Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s patient navigators have helped about 700 people across Louisiana and Texas.

The organization has given each patient an average $500 toward the logistical costs of getting an abortion — it doesn’t help fund the cost of an abortion itself.

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast said patient navigators are trying to make the process easier and less stressful. They help people find abortion appointments and decide where to travel based on how much it would cost or whether they’d have local support. The top two states they are helping patients reach are Missouri and Florida.

Their patients are often parents, some don’t have jobs, and for some, traveling for an abortion is their first time on a plane or leaving their home state. Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast has helped a 13-year-old get an abortion, as well as an undocumented immigrant who didn’t speak English and lacked identification.

Haynes and Barbarin, with the New Orleans Abortion Fund, said it’s critical for those across the country who support abortion rights not to forget about the South and people in Louisiana who need abortions.

“Don't write off the South,” Haynes said.

Both pushed back against what Barbarin called “anti-Southern” sentiment, what Barbarin called “a perfect storm of racism and classism,” and they argued people who support abortion rights need, instead of trying to punish Southern states, to invest in the activists on the ground.

“Trust the people that are on the ground, doing the work in the Deep South,” Haynes said. “We know what our clients need, we have that information and can respond in real time. So send the resources where it's needed and trust the people to get the resources to the folks that need it.”

Rosemary Westwood is the public and reproductive health reporter for WWNO/WRKF. She was previously a freelance writer specializing in gender and reproductive rights, a radio producer, columnist, magazine writer and podcast host.

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