May 18, 2020
Conservative right-wing governors and the wealthy conservatives they represent are using the COVID-19 epidemic to eliminate abortion rights for thousands of poor and working women in states they control. They use their emergency powers to impose rules and procedures to delay and block access.
For them, the COVID-19 epidemic has been a wonderful gift. Six conservative states, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas, jumped to say abortions are non-essential, effectively banning access to abortions during a pandemic.
Arkansas issued rules to say that women had to receive a negative COVID-19 test result at least 48 hours prior to surgery. Of course tests are scarce, effectively blocking any abortion.
Even after Texas lifted its total ban on abortions, it still continued to limit access. Women are required to show up in person for both counseling as well as get an ultrasound in advance of the actual procedure. Each extra trip contains the threat of COVID-19 exposure.
Women driven up against an imposed 20-week deadline have to travel to other states, increasing costs for transportation. Stays in hotels are less available while exposure to COVID-19 is increasing. Women are forced to stay in cars (due to COVID-19 distancing) where they are attacked and maligned by pro-life protesters. When they get out, they are touched, jostled, spit on.
Women are pulled down by increasing expense and childcare issues under COVID-19. The women being blocked from obtaining abortions today have the hardest lives; they are often essential workers, care-givers at work and at home. They are the worst paid, have the fewest benefits and often the worst health. Women have abortions for a number of reasons that are intensified, not ameliorated, by COVID-19. The impact of pregnancy and birth on health, the ability to work, economic disadvantages are made worse by the pandemic.
The need for safe, affordable and timely services, including abortion, are increased many times over by the coronavirus epidemic.
The monsters who are imposing the latest abortion restrictions on women will never stop, will never be discouraged by elections of new politicians, by complaints, not even, finally, by peaceful protests.
They will have to be forced out by a determined fight of working class people. It is up to us to embrace and protect our most valued and most vulnerable.