One of the rooms at WE Health Clinic in Duluth awaits patients. Credit: Derek Montgomery for MPR News

To continue reading this article and others for free, please sign up for our newsletter.

Sahan Journal publishes deep, reported news for and with immigrants and communities of color—the kind of stories you won’t find anywhere else.

Unlock our in-depth reporting by signing up for our free newsletter.

Support local nonprofit journalism that works for you.

Our community-based reporting is made possible by readers just like you. Become a supporter of your local nonprofit news organization today with a tax-deductible donation so we can continue doing the reporting that matters to you.

$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion across the country, health experts predicted that state abortion bans would most affect people of color.

That includes death. Many data models predict a significant increase in maternal mortality for minorities, especially Black people, said Asha Hassan, a graduate researcher at the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health.

“We’re going to see that more so in the long run,” she said.

 “There are inequities in all states of people’s health care journeys, and accessing abortion is harder for people who are racialized,” Hassan said. “Because of structural racism, if you’re Black, you’re less like to have a car, for example, which is more and more needed for abortion access.”

Black people are more likely to experience an unwanted pregnancy, she said, because of structural racism in reproductive health education and healthcare access early in life. For example, students of color who attend underfunded schools are “less likely to have comprehensive sex education” — a situation that puts them at a disadvantage for accessing reproductive health care later on.

There are inequities in all states of people’s health care journeys, and accessing abortion is harder for people who are racialized.

Asha hassan, researcher at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity.

Here’s the main thing to know: In Minnesota, abortion remains legal. In fact, a district court ruling in July eased several state restrictions around abortion. Also in July, the city of Minneapolis declared itself a “safe haven” for abortion, vowing to make reproductive health care as accessible as possible and to forbid its public employees from helping outside agencies locate or prosecute people who’ve come to the city for abortions.

The Minnesota Department of Health releases abortion statistics every January, but anecdotally, health experts say the number of people seeking abortions in Minnesota has increased this summer. 

With so much changing so fast, health care systems are in various stages of catching up, Hassan said. That can create confusion for people seeking care.

Sahan Journal talked to Hassan and Isabel Rodriguez, a reproductive health assistant at the recently relocated Red River Women’s Clinic in Moorhead, Minn., to guide people seeking abortions in Minnesota. ​​

Who should I call to find care in Minnesota—regardless of where I live? 

Several Minnesota clinics offer abortion services, including:

When a patient calls, most clinics will walk them through the entire process, including logistical support such as making travel and financial arrangements. Planned Parenthood recently launched a Patient Navigator Program to help with such details.

Abortion access advocates caution that some abortion opponents run fake health centers that are unregulated by the state of Minnesota. Most of these “crisis pregnancy centers” or “pregnancy resource centers” won’t directly answer questions about abortion over the phone. Legitimate clinics that actually provide abortion services will.

Can I order abortion medication pills through the mail?

There are two types of abortion: medical and surgical. Medical abortions are usually offered up to 10 weeks’ gestation. Residents of Minnesota can access the medication— two pills called mifepristone and misoprostol—in person at abortion clinics or through a telehealth appointment or online pharmacy. Residents of states where abortion is banned may face legal challenges using these services, although work-arounds may be possible in some states (read more about the legality of telehealth and online pharmacy services in your state here). 

“If someone is in South Dakota and needs an abortion and they’re under 11 weeks’ gestation, it would make sense to have access to a medication abortion [at home], but that’s not an option on the table,” Hassan said. “So they would need to cross state lines and have it completely in Minnesota,” either surgically or medically.

Patients should be prepared for the process to take several hours after taking the second pill.

“It’s a miscarriage-like process, so you can experience bleeding, heavy cramping, fever, chills, nausea after the second pill,” Rodriguez said. 

The Red River Women’s Clinic moved from Fargo, North Dakota, to Moorhead, Minnesota last week. The building does not yet have a sign. Credit: Red River Women’s Clinic

I live in Minnesota. Should I expect delays because people from other states are coming to clinics here?

Red River Women’s Clinic, which has always served people traveling long distances, is still able to get appointments for people within a week or two, Rodriguez said.

And with the easing of restrictions in Minnesota, capacity is likely to increase as more nurse practitioners, who are now allowed to prescribe abortion medication, are trained or hired.

Can I talk to someone in a language besides English?

By law, you’re entitled to an interpreter. Check on what services your clinic provides when you make your appointment. Some offer in-person interpreters, and some, such as the Red River Women’s Clinic, offer telehealth interpreters.

How much does an abortion cost? What if I can’t afford it?

Some states, such as North Dakota, don’t allow private or public insurance to be used for abortions. (That could change as President Joe Biden advocates for Medicaid to provide coverage for abortions across the country.) Some insurance in other states, such as Minnesota, will cover the entire cost. If you’re paying out of pocket, expect to pay $700 for an abortion in the first trimester, Rodriguez said. Prices slowly increase with the number of weeks of gestation.

 “When an individual sets up an appointment, we talk to them about funding assistance, family size and need,” she said. “We can access a lot of financial assistance.”

Typically, a first-trimester abortion costs about $700. If insurance doesn’t cover it, “we can access a lot of financial assistance,” said Isabel Rodriguez of the Red River Women’s Clinic.

Can I bring someone with me?

COVID restrictions vary from clinic to clinic, so check ahead. Some current restrictions mean that only the patient is allowed at an appointment.

“An outbreak [of COVID] would restrict our ability to provide services,” Rodriguez said.

I’m under 18. Do I have to have my parents’ consent?

No. Until recently, patients seeking abortions in Minnesota were required to notify two parents or guardians. That restriction is no longer in place.

Will there be people protesting at the clinic when I arrive for my appointment?

It’s possible, but most abortion clinics have volunteers to escort you safely inside. At the Red River Women’s Clinic, for example, volunteers wear bright rainbow-colored vests that say “clinic escort.” Ask about them when you make your appointment.

Can I still get birth control in my state?

Yes. 

“With Roe vs. Wade being overturned, this is all new territory, but as of right now, there are no issues,” Rodriguez said. “And we hope birth control will always be available to everyone who needs it.”

With Roe vs. Wade being overturned, this is all new territory, but as of right now … we hope birth control will always be available to everyone who needs it.”

Isabel Rodriguez of the Red River Women’s Clinic

If I need to travel to Minnesota, how long will I need to stay? Can anyone help me make arrangements? 

In addition to your travel time, plan on a surgical abortion appointment to take three to four hours if within the first trimester, and four to six hours if over 12 weeks’ gestation, Rodriguez said. That includes time to recover in the clinic after the procedure. Medical abortions take 48 hours to be carried out and for recovery. 

Ask about financial help and travel arrangements when you make your appointment. For instance, the Red River Women’s Clinic can sometimes provide gas cards, and can connect you with financial support.

What if I’m undocumented?

Most abortion clinics, including the Red River Women’s Clinic, encourage people to seek health care regardless of immigration status. 

Minnesota’s abortion reporting form does not include questions about citizenship.
At Planned Parenthood, you do not need to tell staff you are undocumented or that you do not have a social security number. Read more about your privacy rights here.

*This article has been updated with additional reporting.

Sheila Mulrooney Eldred writes stories about health equity for Sahan Journal. As a freelance journalist, she has written for The New York Times, the Washington Post, FiveThirtyEight, NPR, STAT News and...