The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting inequities that have long existed in our country’s health care system.
Many states and the federal government have laws and policies that create barriers to accessing reproductive health care, especially abortion care. Denying health care coverage for abortion, banning telemedicine for abortion, preventing prescription access to medication abortion, mandated ultrasounds, forced waiting periods, and parental consent laws are just a few examples of the medically unnecessary restrictions placed on abortion care. Due to the ongoing pandemic, many states are now placing bans on “non-essential” health care procedures in order to prioritize combatting the pandemic. Anti-abortion politicians and organizations are capitalizing on this moment of crisis to further restrict access to abortion by deeming abortion services to be “non-essential,” effectively attempting to shut down abortion access in their states entirely.
The primary care clinicians that we work with are feeling the impact of the pandemic acutely. They are on the front lines caring for sick patients, often dealing with shortages of proper Personal Protective Equipment. Many primary care clinics in areas struggling to manage the pandemic are asking healthy patients seeking birth control and other reproductive health care services not to come in and to access services via the phone or internet. Yet, current laws and policies prevent these very services from being provided virtually.
Now more than ever, it is important that we stay true to our mission and values. Evidence-based, patient-centered reproductive health care must be accessible to everyone, in a way that takes into account the reality of people’s lives in this moment. We need, in this time of crisis, to prioritize:
- Over the counter access to contraception
- Prescription access to medication abortion
- Access to telemedicine for all reproductive health care, including abortion
- Legal protections for people who self-manage abortions
- Insurance coverage of all services, including abortion care
RHAP is committed to working to ensure that reproductive health care, including abortion care, is protected in this time of crisis and beyond.