The NY Times editorial board is calling for more resources for abortions during the coronavirus.
The editorial board writes:
It’s hardly new for anti-abortion politicians to seize on any excuse to try to restrict women’s bodily autonomy, but it is a new low to exploit a pandemic that’s already cost hundreds of American lives, and threatens many thousands more.
In recent days, leaders in several states — including Texas, Ohio and Louisiana — have pushed to close abortion clinics or severely curtail access, arguing that abortion is a nonessential procedure that ought to be delayed.
The “nonessential” bit is obvious nonsense and the delay a transparent attempt to put abortion out of reach for those who need it. As several major health care groups noted in a joint statement last week: “Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care. It is also a time-sensitive service for which a delay of several weeks, or in some cases days, may increase the risks or potentially make it completely inaccessible. The consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health and well-being.”
These state leaders know that once an abortion clinic closes for any significant period, it becomes difficult to reopen. That’s why Texas has fewer clinics today than it did before the enactment of its restrictive 2013 anti-abortion law, which aimed to regulate clinics out of existence. Though the law was struck down by the Supreme Court three years later, many clinics were never able to staff back up and become operational again.
Surely all of this is top of mind for Louisiana’s governor, John Bel Edwards, a Democrat opposed to abortion, as the Supreme Court prepares to decide on a case involving a Louisiana law that’s nearly identical to Texas’. That decision, expected in June, could close all but one abortion clinic in Louisiana. But that might be a moot point by then, if all the clinics in the state already have been closed under the pretense of public health.
It’s important to note that these state leaders may not be successful — clinics in Ohio have remained open while the matter makes its way through the courts.
But these efforts underline a real problem for people seeking reproductive health care amid this crisis: Much more of this care needs to be able to happen from home.
Experts say that most patients seeking birth control and even abortions performed via medication can do so safely without traveling to a health care facility. But there are political and regulatory roadblocks that must be cleared to make widespread at-home access to reproductive health care possible.
In the coming weeks, unintended pregnancies could rise as a result of people being stuck in their homes, potentially without consistent access to birth control. Among those who would choose to have an abortion — there were about 860,000 abortions in America in 2017 — an increasing number might not be able to get those services, either because of the dangers of traveling (for patients and abortion providers alike), a growing inability to afford the procedure or the need to take care of homebound children and other family members.
Read more here.