At a House subcommittee hearing yesterday on a bill that would severely restrict access to insurance coverage for abortion, Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa mocked an expert who testified, accurately, that paying out of pocket for an abortion could cost a low-income woman more than a month’s rent.
Susan Wood, a George Washington University professor and former FDA official, told the all-male judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution that HR7 – which would make the Hyde Amendment permanent, ban federal subsidies for private insurance plans that cover abortion and would permanently block the District of Columbia from spending local tax money on abortion services – could “virtually eliminate abortion coverage from the private insurance market” and would especially hurt low-income women, threatening to push them “deeper into poverty.”
“While it may not seem like a big expense to a Member of Congress, in these tough financial times, for many people, abortion care costs more than their monthly rent, putting it out of reach for their family’s pocketbook,” Wood said.
When it came time to ask questions, Rep. King mocked Wood’s comparison of the cost of abortion to a month’s rent, wondering, “I wonder how many abortions a month does she need to keep up with the monthly rent check.”
Rep. King: “Okay, then your answer, then, would be that, in exceptional cases it may cost a woman more for a single abortion than it does for her one month of rent check. Is that an accurate way to depict what you said?”
Prof. Wood: “That’s correct.”
Rep. King: “Okay, because I wonder how many abortions a month does she need to keep up with the monthly rent check.”
The Guttmacher Institute estimates that the average cost of a first-trimester abortion is between $450 and $500, depending on the method used; Planned Parenthood says a first-trimester abortion can cost up to $950. Later-term abortions, which are more rare, can cost many times that.