This Mother’s Day, May 10th, marked the start of National Women’s Health Week, an annual celebration of the ways in which women can focus on making their mental and physical wellness a priority. Now more than ever the need for people of all genders to do our part in sustaining a healthy lifestyle is clear– not just for our own wellbeing but also for that of everyone else around us.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the many ways in which healthy habits, like quitting smoking and washing hands often, make us less vulnerable to illness. It has also placed a magnifying glass on how many aspects of our health fall beyond our control. While it may be easy for many to integrate exercise and wellness practices like yoga and meditation into their daily routines, other important parts of health for women, trans, and gender-nonconforming folks are being further restricted by the politicization of our bodies and the glaring inequality in access people across gender, race, and socioeconomic spectrums face during the outbreak.
As we reflect on the ways people of all genders prioritize their health, it is also important to acknowledge factors– like location, race, and class– that influence health, especially in a state of the pandemic. For example, some state governments have taken steps to ban abortion altogether during the pandemic, dismissing it as non-essential and restricting remote treatment options. In these places, patients are forced to travel further, make multiple in-person visits, and endure mandatory waiting periods to access the care they need. This puts patients, clinicians, and their loved ones at an increased risk of exposure, and doesn’t take into account the cost of travel, childcare, and missed work for those seeking care.
In other states, positive steps have been taken to bolster access in new ways. For example, an increase in access to telemedicine for abortion, miscarriage, and contraception care is allowing patients in many places to receive the care they need from the safety of their homes. As an organization working to support reproductive health year-round, we at RHAP look forward to reflecting on how we can continue to take steps like these during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond to ensure every person has access to safe care, even in times of crisis.