Students at NYU interviewed this past weekend were relieved to learn that abortions will now be fully covered by the university-sponsored health insurance plan starting in fall 2023, whether the procedure is elective or medically necessary.
“It makes me feel a lot safer, the fact that I know I could get one if need be and that it would be fully covered,” said Imogene Bokta, a first-year student at NYU. “It makes me feel good that NYU is putting that first, especially at a time when it’s so controversial whether or not states would even let you have one.”
Under Wellfleet, the university’s insurance provider, only medically necessary abortions that are considered “in-network” are fully covered currently, according to the student health plan for 2022-2023. Elective abortions require a 20% co-payment, even if they are considered “in-network.” Abortions for any reason will be covered in full starting next year when they are “in-network.”
In-clinic abortion costs range from $600 to $2,000 depending on how far along the pregnancy is, according to Planned Parenthood—it can thus cost anywhere between $120 and $400 out of pocket for a single elective procedure, more if students are treated by an “out-of-network” provider. NYU student Nadiya Sayson was surprised abortion hasn’t always been part of the student health plan.
“If you’re gonna offer health insurance and be a reliable source to students, then you have to include all aspects of health insurance, and that includes abortion as well,” Sayson said. “I am a little bit surprised that it wasn’t [established] earlier. They know their community is fucking sexually active.” She pointed to the box of condoms sitting on the top of the bookshelf behind her in the Founders Hall lobby. “If you’re providing condoms and you’re providing STD help and whatever, abortion should be part of it. It goes hand in hand with being a responsible administration.”
In February, NYU’s chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America published a letter in the school’s student newspaper, the Washington Square News, calling for abortions for NYU faculty and students “without question, without delay, and without cost” and launched a petition for abortion access expansion at the university. It has over 400 signatures so far.
Jaya Kask, an NYU student in Global Liberal Studies with a concentration in Politics, Rights, and Development, said the question of the school’s responsibility to cover abortions is complicated by state policies.
“It becomes a weird thing because that isn’t what the purpose of a school should have to be,” she said. “I don’t think a school should even have to provide insurance because it should just be free.” Back home in Sweden, health care is covered by the government. “You go into a hospital and you’re just taken care of.” In lieu of universal health care in the United States, however, Kask said that NYU has a duty to its students. “We’re paying so much, like, please let me get an abortion. With tuition as expensive as it is, it is definitely possible. It shouldn’t have to be [the school’s responsibility], but it is.”
Her roommate, Victoria Velasko y Trianosky Awai, agreed. “It becomes the school’s responsibility because of the state’s law.” She is reassured by NYU’s commitment to reproductive justice in the university’s community in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court ruling that peeled back federal protections on abortions, abandoning almost 50 years of precedent and setting the foundation for states to ban abortion. “A university is supposed to be your safe space, and if you’re supported by your university, it makes the whole process so much easier.”
Comments under a post by the Washington Square News detailing NYU’s efforts to improve abortion coverage shared similar sentiments, praising the university with emojis of red hearts and hands clapping in applause of the achievement. One user, who goes by was.joshuaaa, said “finally something good to come out of this school.” His comment got 71 likes.
Another comment by the South Asian Women’s Association stated that the organization has been working with the NYU Student Health Center to make emergency contraceptives and pregnancy tests available in vending machines across campus.
The center is also pursuing official certification from the Food and Drug Administration to dispense mifepristone, an abortion medication used to terminate pregnancy through the 10-week mark, after a change in FDA policies in January allowing retail pharmacies to begin carrying the drug has made it possible for NYU to do so.