While women in Massachusetts will retain the right to abortion whether or not the US Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, Cape and Islanders have faced geographic obstacles to pregnancy termination services for years.
“The closest access to abortion care is more than 90 miles away,” said Senator Julian Sear, D-Truro.
“The closest location for a surgical abortion is Boston or Attleboro,” Sayer said.
Over the years, there has been a lot of talk but little action about replacing the services that the Hyannis Women’s Health Center was providing.
The Camp Street abortion provider closed in 2008 when a client died after the procedure.
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The doctor who runs the clinic, Rabin Osathanund, lost his medical license and was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the death of a woman whose heart stopped while under anesthesia.
Services available in Massachusetts but not close
“There are services in place,” said Penelope Dube of Falmouth, president of the Upper Cape Women’s Alliance. “They are not everywhere they want to be.”
There are real geographic restrictions on Cape Cod, said Erin Andrews of Centerville, who helped organize a rally around abortion rights Saturday at Rotary Airport.
Andrews said that traveling outside the Cape and off the island to have a procedural or surgical abortion increases the cost and difficulty of having the procedure, especially for low-income women who need to arrange job coverage and childcare.
Sir would like to restore abortion services in the Cape. But he said finding a way to do that was difficult.
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He said community health centers in the Cape are receiving federal funding, and that’s an obstacle in the way.
“You’re federally regulated and you can’t provide these services,” Sayer said. “Cape Cod Healthcare has similar issues as well.”
Abortion pills provide access, lower costs
Access to abortion services for women in the Cape and the Islands expanded significantly at the end of 2021 when the US Food and Drug Administration lifted restrictions on prescription abortion pills.
As of December 16, the Food and Drug Administration permanently removed the requirement for in-person visits to a Medicare provider in order to obtain a prescription, meaning patients can receive the drug by mail.
Becker, a professor of gender studies at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, said women seeking to terminate their pregnancies now have access to nine providers who can mail them abortion pills after counseling by video, phone or online counseling.
Baker said ordering cereal by mail can save costs.
She said going to Planned Parenthood in person to get the abortion pills can cost $700. But a non-profit organization in Austria called Aid Access makes it available for $150. It also provides a tiered fee for low-income patients.
The abortion pill, which consists of mifepristone, which blocks progesterone and ends pregnancy, and misoprostol, which causes cramping, is only available for use within 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Abortion services closest to Cape Cod
The cost of abortion services at Four Women’s Health Services in Attleboro, which terminate pregnancy up to 20.6 weeks of gestational age, can cost up to $2,300, according to the Now Reproductive website, formerly known as NARAL.
At Women’s Health Services in Brooklyn, which provides abortions up to 23 weeks and six days of assisted conception, pregnancy termination services can cost $3,300.
The federal Hyde Amendment, passed in 1977, prohibits states from using federal Medicaid dollars to pay for abortions unless the procedure is considered “medically necessary” or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
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However, Massachusetts is one of several states that uses its own money to cover other abortions, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Those countries typically define abortions as necessary to protect the physical or mental health of women seeking to terminate a pregnancy, the foundation said.
After the May 2 leak, published in Politico, of a draft Supreme Court ruling that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the Senate increased the House’s proposed funding for reproductive services, including grants to fund abortion, from $500,000 to $2 million, Sayer said. dollar.
Ser said the proposed funding is “included” in the proposed budget. “The Senate really expanded it.”
Abortion funds are available in eastern Massachusetts
The fund that serves women in the Cape and Islands who cannot afford abortion services is the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund, Baker said.
The Roe Act passed in Massachusetts in December of 2020 enshrines abortion rights in state law and also expands access to 16-year-olds.
But Baker said she was concerned that restrictions and bans on abortion in other states would mean waiting longer to get clinic care for Massachusetts residents.
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She said, “People are going to come here to have abortions. This means that waiting times are longer in clinics for inpatient care. I am very concerned about the impact.”
This can add additional hurdles for Cape and Island women seeking pregnancy termination services in Boston, Attleboro and Providence.
“Getting out of the Cape is not something everyone can easily do,” Sayer said.
“It is imperative that we not only ensure the right to choose in Massachusetts, but that access to reproductive health care, including access to abortion, is readily available – no matter where you live in the Commonwealth,” he said.
Cynthia McCormick can be reached at [email protected] or at cmccormickcct