A note on digital privacy: Each state’s laws are changing rapidly, and some states are moving faster than others to criminalize interstate travel for abortions or self-managed abortions, miscarriages, or other kinds of pregnancy-related conditions.
The Digital Defense Fund Guide to Abortion Privacy has great information on everything from the privacy of your browser history, to your messages on your phone, to targeted ads, to protecting your privacy at healthcare facilities where protesters may be present. The Williams VPN (Virtual Private Networking) will allow you to do academic, career-related, and informational research about topics related to abortion and reproductive healthcare access and your computer will act as if it is on campus.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs, you may be wondering about how to access abortion care, both in Williamstown and elsewhere. Generally speaking, if you are seeking to end your own pregnancy, you need to address three things:
- The Guttmacher Institute maintains a guide to state-by-state abortion restrictions. These restrictions can include a limit on whether abortion is available at all, a mandatory waiting period between a “counseling” appointment and the procedure itself, and parental notification laws for minors.
For states that use gestational age to limit whether and for how long a person can receive abortion care, that is calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP), not the presumed date of conception. This means that if you must wait several weeks for a telehealth or in-clinic appointment, it may put you outside the allowed timeframe for your state.
Generally speaking, there are two ways to pay for healthcare services: out-of-pocket (meaning you pay yourself for the services and medications provided) or via health insurance.
Laws vary by state about whether a person can use health insurance coverage–even private health insurance provided by an insurance company–to pay for abortion care. Some health insurance plans are not usable outside of your state of residence or a neighboring state or region, and so traveling for abortion care may mean you can’t use your insurance.
Using health insurance may raise privacy concerns for you, for example if you access your insurance through a shared plan and are worried about the subscriber of your plan receiving an explanation of benefits or bills for outstanding balances.
Paying for abortions:
Students who are enrolled in the Williams Student Health Insurance Plan, which has comprehensive reproductive healthcare benefits, including abortion care. There will be small co-pays for office visits and prescriptions. This coverage is usable not only in MA but in other states as well. Students receiving financial aid do not pay for the cost of health insurance. Students who are not aided can get the SHIP at a cost of $2,277 for the 8/15-8/14 academic year.
The National Network of Abortion Funds provides financial support to individuals seeking abortions who are not able to pay the full cost of a procedure on their own.
Williams is committed to supporting students in accessing the medical care they require to continue their education. The Critical Need Fund is available for students who need help accessing resources for out-of-pocket medical expenses.
The legal landscape is shifting very rapidly. If you have specific legal concerns related to ending your own pregnancy, or the status of self-managed abortion and the law, If/When/How’s Repro Legal Helpline has a variety of resources.
For students on-campus:
Abortion care within Berkshire County is extremely limited, but you still have options and resources available. Local healthcare providers in Pittsfield offer medication abortion up to 7 weeks and in-clinic surgical abortions up to 12 weeks.
Providers in the Albany and Springfield areas have broader timeframes available for both types of abortion.
Use abortionfinder.org or ineedana.com to explore verified options close to campus. You can also use Plan C to find information on telehealth appointments for self-managed abortion (also known as the abortion pill or medication abortion).
Transportation: You may use the non-emergency transport service to one of the Albany or Springfield-area providers. There is no cost for this, and you may bring one accompaniment person with you (if allowed by the COVID policies of your provider). Once you have secured an appointment with a provider, contact the Health Center (413-597-2206) to arrange transportation.
For students off-campus:
Use abortionfinder.org or ineedana.com to explore verified options in the location where you are living for the summer. You can also use Plan C to find information on telehealth appointments for self-managed abortion (also known as the abortion pill or medication abortion).
Reproductive Health Travel Reimbursement Benefit for Williams Students who are enrolled in Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP)
Williams has adopted an amendment to SHIP for members seeking surgical or medication-assisted voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion) services when access to these covered services is restricted or not available in the member’s state as a result of state law. The health plan will cover transportation (automobile, airplane, train, or bus) and lodging costs when the member must travel more than 100 miles in each direction from their residence to the nearest qualified covered provider that can furnish the covered service.
The coverage for transportation and lodging costs is available for the member who is receiving the covered service and one companion if the companion’s presence is necessary to allow the member to receive covered services.
To be reimbursed for eligible transportation and lodging costs, individuals must submit the Reimbursement Request Form to Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
This benefit was made retroactive to 8/15/2022 so that individuals may seek reimbursement for travel expenses that may have been incurred over the past few months.
If you have additional questions, call BCBS Member Service at 1-888-753-6615
Because abortion care in Berkshire County is not widely accessible, depending on the state you are located for breaks or time away from the campus, you may have more options available to you in your off-campus location. If you are in a very restrictive state or an area with very few providers, please contact Meg Bossong at 413-597-4977 to discuss options.