COVID-19 and Abortion Advocacy: Strategies to Consider

March 30, 2020
Expanding Abortion Access

Abortion is essential, and reproductive health care cannot be put on hold in times of crisis. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented outbreak — elected and public health officials are implementing policies to limit spread of the disease and flatten the curve, sometimes with unintended consequences for abortion access. Unfortunately, there are a few who are exploiting the pandemic to further their opposition to abortion care.

NIRH works with state and local advocates across the country to advance reproductive freedom and protect abortion access. Below are strategies for advocates to consider to ensure that abortion care remains secure and accessible during these very challenging times. 

Strategies to maintain access to abortion care during the COVID-19 crisis.

  1. If the city or state finds it necessary to impose any limitations on travel, emergency policies should contain exceptions for people accessing time-sensitive reproductive health care, including abortion, filling prescriptions for contraception, or pregnancy-related care.
  2. If the city or state orders the closure of “nonessential” facilities, emergency policies must exempt reproductive health care facilities that provide time-sensitive reproductive health care such as abortion, contraception or pregnancy-related care, at least for the purposes of providing such care.
  3. Any city, state or hospital-specific policies limiting or eliminating “elective procedures” at hospitals must allow hospitals to continue to provide any time-sensitive reproductive health care that must be performed in a hospital setting, or direct hospitals to provide  referral information for nearby facilities.  
  4. Emergency orders that require people to maintain social distancing in public places should be enforced carefully in front of reproductive health care facilities. Although these  facilities often experience intense protest activity, during this public health crisis, it is critical that no group of people gather together and attempt to approach patients or providers. There have been reports of frequent clinic protestors ignoring social distancing guidelines and endangering women accessing abortion and clinic staff. If enforcing an existing emergency order is not the best option, feel free to contact NIRH to discuss other possibilities, which might include requesting a specific order for the area or zone around the clinic.

If you are an advocate or elected official and want more information on this topic, please contact [email protected] for support.