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The Price of Abortion Under The BCRA

It's no secret that the Republican Party has long sought to obstruct reproductive freedom, but the new health care bill, as written, would deliver a nearly insurmountable blow to women's rights, effectively banning abortion for all but the wealthiest Americans. So how much would an abortion cost under the BCRA, or the Better Care Reconciliation Act? If you're lucky enough to have a well-paying job with a progressive employer that provides comprehensive insurance, it could be free. Otherwise, you might be on the hook for more than $3,000, according to the nonprofit ClearHealthCosts.

The most affordable option would be a medication abortion — once dose of mifepristone followed by a dose of misoprostol a day or two later. That's available up to about 10 weeks of pregnancy, according to Planned Parenthood, and costs $800. After 10 weeks, a surgical abortion is the only option, and the costs go up. Currently, Planned Parenthood offers abortions and other services on a sliding scale for uninsured patients. But the BCRA would prohibit states from allowing Medicaid funds to be used at Planned Parenthood, or any other community health care provider that performs abortion, except in the case of rape, incest, or a "life-endangering physical condition" (note that the inclusion of the word "physical" intentionally invalidates mental health conditions).

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About 1.6 million Medicaid patients receive health care services from Planned Parenthood annually, NPR has reported, and the GOP plan to blocking Medicaid payments would cost the nonprofit organization $400 million per year. If clinics are forced to close, patients would have to rely on more expensive doctors and hospitals as the only options for abortion — as well as contraception, prenatal care, pap smears, mammograms, vaccines, well visits, and so much more.

But back to the subject at hand. According to a 2014 survey by the Guttmacher Institute, 75 percent of abortion patients were low-income, and half lived below the federal poverty level. All told, 53 percent were forced to pay out-of-pocket. Crunching those numbers, a surgical abortion could cost as much as four months' salary. It's just not possible.

While about two-thirds of abortion patients in the survey were either uninsured or covered by Medicaid, the rest were covered by private insurance, the Affordable Care Act's exchange, or similar coverage. But the BCRA has bad news for them, too: it eliminates the insurance premium tax credit for anyone enrolled in a plan that covers abortions, as well as the tax credit for small employers that provide such coverage. And then, as a fail safe, states can still apply for those waivers that would allow them to redefine what health care coverage is actually necessary. Under the BCRA, abortion could all but disappear. Mission accomplished for the far-right, at last, when it comes to forcing pregnancies on women who cannot have them.