Accessing Abortion in NC

As abortion rights shift across the country, planning for when you may need to have an abortion can be helpful. Experiencing an unexpected pregnancy can be overwhelming, especially when you have to navigate complex legal and social dynamics to access health care.  

Abortion is a normal part of reproductive health care. You have a right to make decisions about your body, and we will help you identify resources to support those decisions. 

1. First steps

A.First steps

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If you’re thinking through your decision, you can review Planned Parenthood’s page on considering abortion

If you or someone you know is a patient seeking an abortion and you have questions, or want to know about available resources, The National Abortion Federation national hotline can help. This link includes their two lines and hours.  

2. Learn the laws

A.Learn the laws

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This page from the Guttmacher Institute includes the current legal restrictions on abortion in North Carolina and will be updated if those restrictions change.  

Things to know about NC abortion restrictions:  

  • How far along you are in your pregnancy  (referred to as “gestational age”) will determine what your options are. Gestational age is measured from the date of your last period. So, if you started your period 6 weeks ago, you are 6 weeks along in your pregnancy. Currently, North Carolina permits abortions to be performed up to "viability" which varies, but typically is between 23 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. Some abortion clinics have their own gestational limits, so it’s a good idea to ask. 
  • North Carolina requires minors to obtain parent permission or request an exemption from a judge before receiving an abortion.  
    • If you need assistance obtaining an abortion as a minor, you can use TextAbby, a free text line that can answer your questions and help you obtain a judicial waiver if you need one. The number to TextAbby is (844) 997-2229. 
  • North Carolina has a 72-hour waiting period. You are required to receive state-directed counseling that includes information to discourage you from having an abortion and then wait 72 hours before you can go in for your appointment. You can do this over the phone, but it delays your appointment and should be considered as you calculate your gestational age.

3. Identify your nearest licensed abortion provider

A.Identify your nearest licensed abortion provider

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North Carolina has 14 abortion providers in 9 counties. You can find the closest one to you using AbortionFinder.org. It will ask you to input the date of your last period to determine which clinics offer abortion at your gestational age.  

It is critical that you find a reputable and safe abortion provider. If a clinic is not listed in the finder above, it may be a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC). CPCs are anti-abortion centers that do not provide medical care and are designed to dissuade people from obtaining an abortion. They engage in varied manipulation tactics, including misleading advertisements and medically inaccurate information, to target vulnerable people.  

Resource: Pro-Choice NC has some helpful information on how to spot a fake clinic.  

4. Know the different kinds of abortion services

A.Know the different kinds of abortion services

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Different types of abortion are available to you depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy.  

  • Medication abortion is typically available up to 8-11 weeks, depending on the provider. It’s most effective for pregnancies under 8 weeks. It consists of two pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, which you take 48 hours apart. In North Carolina, you’re required to take the first pill in the clinic, but you can take the second pill at home.  
  • In-clinic abortion is a medical procedure that ends a pregnancy. There are a couple kinds of in-clinic abortion procedures, and many factors may impact which is right for you. You can discuss these options with your provider. Suction abortion is the most common type of in-clinic abortion. It uses suction to empty your uterus. It’s typically available between about 5 weeks and about 16 weeks. 

5. What to expect when making your appointment

A.What to expect when making your appointment

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Some providers have an online appointment scheduler, while some require you to call the clinic. Keep in mind potential wait times for appointment availability. Some clinics only perform abortions on certain days of the week. When you call, be prepared to answer some questions, such as when your last period started.   

6. Cost and payment options

A.Cost and payment options

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The average cost in North Carolina is $300–$600 for a first trimester abortion (up to 12 weeks). Second trimester abortions (between 13 weeks and viability) could cost much more. When you call to make your appointment, the provider should be able to tell you how much you will have to pay.  

Some private insurance plans cover abortion care. In North Carolina, health plans offered for public employees and under the Affordable Care Act can only cover abortion in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest. 

If you’re concerned about your ability to pay for your abortion, you can ask your provider if they have any financial assistance available. Some clinics also offer discounts under certain circumstances, like if you can pay on the day of service.  

Resource: For more support and financial assistance, you can also contact the Carolina Abortion Fund. They can help you identify all the costs associated with your care and may be able to provide you with financial assistance.

7. Getting to and from your appointment

A.Getting to and from your appointment

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Many providers will require you to bring someone to help you get home after an in-clinic abortion, particularly if sedation will be required. You can ask someone from the clinic what their requirements are and how long the appointment is expected to take. Consider if there is someone in your life you can share your plan with and ask if they will accompany you.  

If you are planning to go alone, or if your support person is unable to drive you, check your local public transportation (bus, train, etc) in advance to be sure you can get home. You can also take an Uber, Lyft, or another ride share app or taxi company. You will not be able to drive yourself home. 

8. Other considerations

A.Other considerations

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Depending on appointment scheduling and how you are feeling, you may have to take time off work to get an abortion and to recover from the procedure. The costs of the procedure and the associated financial concerns are a hardship for many and can keep them from getting the reproductive care they need. Some abortion funds and other financial resources may be able to help with the financial concerns beyond paying for the appointment. Here are some other things to consider: 

  • If you have children, some clinics allow you to bring them with you to your appointment, but you should check beforehand if this is allowed. It may be necessary to arrange child care.  
  • You can also consider what type of emotional support you may need before, during, and after the procedure. Are there people in your life who you can safely talk to about your feelings? Hey Jane has written a guide on telling people about your abortion. If you can’t talk to anyone in your life, there are hotlines you can call to receive support.  
  • Unfortunately, there may be protesters outside of the abortion clinic when you come in for your appointment. They may shout at you or try to hand you literature. Security and trespassing laws vary by clinic. 
    • Resources: Many clinics have volunteer escorts who will walk you from your car and shield you from protesters. Pro-Choice NC also has some information on dealing with protesters on this page.  

9. Additional resources

A.Additional resources

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If you have experienced sexual violence, you can find your local rape crisis center through this search function from the NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault.  

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) also has a national 24-hour hotline you can reach over the phone or by online chat. If you feel safe confiding in them, your abortion provider may be aware of additional resources in your community. 

For assistance with intimate partner violence, you can search here for local domestic violence service providers. Many of these centers have hotlines you can call for assistance and support. 

Learning about, getting, and recovering from abortion care is challenging and requires many considerations. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. There are people across North Carolina and around the country who are waiting to support and help you. Abortion is a safe, common medical procedure. You have control over what to do with your body. 

10. Abortion Advocacy