What You Need to Know About Abortion in NYC

When deciding where to get an abortion or what type to get, it comes down to what makes you comfortable and what will keep you physically and emotionally healthy. It is a personal decision that should be made by you and you alone — though talking with trusted friends, family members, or a counselor can be useful as they can help unpack feelings and considerations that often come along with the procedure. The process is different for everyone, and there is no specific way to feel about the choice you make.

It can be tough for people to find information on how to get an abortion, because due to the stigma surrounding the subject information can be limited or hard to find. With that in mind, and with other states and lawmakers debating the legality of abortion, I thought it would be helpful to provide facts and options for women in New York.

A pregnant person in New York is able to get an abortion in two different ways. 

1) If it is early enough, you can choose the abortion pill, which is effective within the first ten weeks of pregnancy. The abortion pill is a two-step process of taking taking two different medications — mifepristone and misoprostol. You take the mifepristone pill in the clinic; you are able to take the misoprostol at home. The first pill will block your body’s progesterone, which is a hormone your body needs to remain pregnant. The second will cause cramping and bleeding to empty the uterus. Once you take the second pill, you will have symptoms similar to a heavy period. The bleeding should begin within 24 hours of taking the second pill. 

2) If you are past ten weeks, the pill will not be effective, but you are still able to have an in-clinic abortion. In-clinic abortions can be performed up to 24 weeks into the pregnancy. According to Planned Parenthood, it is best to seek help sooner, if you are able to, because pregnancies after 16 weeks may be more difficult to terminate and can require more visits. The actual procedure takes around ten minutes in-clinic. 

Abortions feel different for everyone. Some people say that there is a bit of discomfort, but other people report that they did feel pain. Doctors will administer pain and numbing medication to help with this. Typically, nurses will be in the procedure room with you to talk you through the process and offer emotional support. 

I spoke with Anna Miller*, 21, who had an abortion by way of the pill in January 2019. She was five weeks along and decided the pill would be the best option for her situation. She found her gynecologist, Gramercy Gynecology, through the app ZocDoc. 

“The gynecologist was fantastic,” she said. “She was super-comforting and talked me through my options, before referring me to a clinic*. She never tried to talk me out of it and she provided with all the information about the pill and in-clinic abortions.” 

“I decided to get the abortion pill; this was a personal choice that made me the most comfortable,” Miller said. The cost was $500 because it wasn’t covered by her insurance, but the final cost is different for different insurance providers. 

“I was able to get into the gynecologist within the week I found out I was pregnant, and then she referred me to the clinic, which I was able to get into within a week,” she said. 

Miller said that she went to the clinic, and they took her to a room to take the first pill. 

“It literally looked like somebody’s bedroom, with decorations and everything. It was very comfortable and didn’t feel too medical.” 

This process was discreet, according to Miller. She paid while she was at the clinic, so bills were never sent to her house; any follow-up calls from the clinic were never left over voicemail, to keep her information confidential. 

In terms of finding an abortion clinic and scheduling an appointment, it is fairly easy to do in New York. It’s a good idea to start by calling your gynecologist to see if they perform abortions. Even if they don’t, often times they will refer you to a clinic that does. If you do not have a gynecologist, a simple way to find one is by using the app ZocDoc. Here, you can enter your insurance information and search for providers in your area. New York state abortion laws are relatively unrestrictive, and most health care providers are forthcoming with information to make the process as easy as it can be. 

Planned Parenthood is a good option, because they can provide low-cost procedures depending on your insurance provider. Also, depending on your financial status, providers often will work with you to find cost-effective options. Planned Parenthood, for instance, will review your financial information and talk you through payment options. Depending on your income level, the procedure could be free. Recently, in an attempt to make abortions more accessible to low-income people or people not covered with insurance, New York City allocated $250,000 to clinics to perform abortions on those who cannot afford it. 

If you would like more information, visit plannedparenthood.org, eastsidegynecology.com, einstein.yu.edu, or gramercygynecology.com. These clinics don’t all perform abortions, but are able to refer you to safe and reputable clinics and provide all the information and prior tests you need.