We hope you are well. During this time of uncertainty, it is more important than ever that we take care of ourselves and each other and center the health and well-being of our communities.
This is a stressful time. The primary care clinicians we work with are on the front lines, caring for the most vulnerable patients in the country. They are treating patients in community health centers, primary care clinics, departments of health, schools, and hospitals. They are exposing themselves to the virus on a daily basis. Many then have to figure out how to safely care for elderly family members and children.
We are already seeing how this pandemic is affecting access to reproductive health care. Things that should be easy and routine, like getting a prescription for birth control, are more complicated. Accessing abortion care–which was already difficult in many places–is now more so. This pandemic is putting an additional strain on what is already a very understaffed pool of clinicians able to provide abortion care. Our colleagues who were flying to low access states to provide abortion care are now facing travel restrictions. Some clinical colleagues who are 65 or older are being told not to come to work as they are at higher personal health risk. People in need of abortion care are having to go to health facilities, sometimes multiple times over the course of several days due to unnecessary laws such as waiting periods, putting themselves and their families at increased risk of exposure. It has never been more clear that we need to be able to access medication abortion by prescription.
It is critical that we come together as a movement to support and lift each other up. Here are some ways in which we are continuing our work at this time.
- Prioritizing the health and safety of our staff, community members, and clinicians. Our entire staff is working remotely. While we have closed our offices, we continue to work 100%. We are ramping up our capabilities to host virtual meetings and piloting technologies to keep us connected throughout the day. Fortunately, many of our systems were already online, so our work has been able to continue uninterrupted.
- Strengthening our communities of support. In a time when social distancing is important to stop the spread of COVID-19, we know that maintaining connections with each other is critical to our mental well-being. Our staff checks in with each other every day. We’re ensuring that our 25 Network Clusters across the country can continue to meet by purchasing more licenses for the web-based video program Zoom, and our team is actively seeking out training on how to facilitate and run effective virtual meetings. We’re encouraging our Clusters to utilize their listservs to check in and support each other. For our clinician educators and students, we encourage the use of RHAP’s free online resource database, which include numerous talks and lectures on reproductive health topics.
- Continue advocating to ensure that people who need health care, including abortion care, can access it safely and effectively. Even if we can’t get out there to lobby, testify, or gather in person, we will not stop advocating for policies that protect and expand access to reproductive health care and against restrictive legislation and policies. We will continue supporting efforts that expand and protect insurance coverage for medical care, support paid sick leave, and protect workers. And, right now we are ramping up our advocacy to ensure that in this time of crisis access to reproductive health remains unimpeded, including fighting for prescription access to medication abortion.
We remain, more than ever, committed to ensuring that everyone, everywhere has access to the basic health care that they need-including abortion, contraception, and early pregnancy loss care. We are here to answer any questions you may have and to serve as a source of ongoing support. Please reach out via email and stay in touch on social media through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Stay connected, stay safe, and stay healthy.