Politicians that use COVID-19 to restrict abortion access limit essential healthcare

Cartoon+by+Kevin+Donovan%2FObserver+Staff

Cartoon by Kevin Donovan/Observer Staff

Sophia Reid

Cartoon by Kevin Donovan/Observer Staff

As the world tackles COVID-19, we face uncertain futures, a deadly virus, and a pause to life as we all know it. Politicians in eight different states are capitalizing on this time to push restrictive abortion legislation and limit access more so than there already is. 
According to the Washington Post, certain states such as Virginia, Washington and Illinois have implemented measures to protect family planning from being deemed “elective” healthcare. However, other states such as Iowa, Texas and Alabama have aimed to use the term “elective” to ban surgical abortion services. 
While most are sheltering in place and life appears to have paused, pregnancies will still happen, abortions will still be necessary and protecting the access to abortion care is more important now than ever. 
States such as Ohio and Texas claim that abortions are elective procedures and can be postponned. However, this is an incredibly narrow and deliberate focus on abortion care. The reality is that abortions in many states, particularly the ones claiming the ability to postpone abortion procedures, are not allowed past 20 weeks. Furthermore, the further along in gestation, the more expensive abortion procedures become. Therefore, the claim that abortions can simply be pushed off and postponed is ignoring the reality of current access. 
And, while early evidence has shown that pregnant COVID patients are recovering well, abortion still remains safer than childbirth, a fact that is not changing in light of COVID. Additionally, forcing a person to carry to term a pregnancy that they did not want makes this positive recovery fact pointless because the fact remains that the pregnancy is not desired. 
To make matters worse, according to the ACLU, one woman who sought an abortion in Texas was denied access and forced to travel across state lines to Denver, CO to receive care. As medical experts are encouraging us to stay home to limit the spread of COVID, forcing a woman to travel across multiple states in order to have a relatively quick and incredibly safe procedure, is counterproductive. 
If, as these states claim, they want to reserve healthcare resources and personal protective equipment (PPEs) for COVID care, then forcing people to travel across states and risk exposure to the virus is only doing what they claim to be preventing. 
Seeing these politicians take advantage of a deadly virus to push for an increase in abortion restrictions is even more frustrating when you take into account that over 17 million people have claimed unemployment as of the beginning of April, and, while evictions may have been halted, rent is still due across the country every month. As people in every state face unemployment and uncertain financial futures, to be forced to give birth to a child you did not plan for financially nor may be capable of supporting, is cruel to ask of a person in normal times, and even worse now. 
Abortion is healthcare, and for eight states across the Midwest and south to be taking advantage of this difficult time to restrict a healthcare service that 1 in 4 women will need by the time they are 44, is ignoring the vital necessity that is abortion care. 
Despite these actions by politicians to limit abortion access, there are still many online support, education and access resources online. Check out the following sites to learn more and find support. 
Shout Your Abortion
Abortion Access Funds
The Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City
SisterSong-a reproductive justice organization
Planned Parenthood
NARAL Prochoice America
National Advocates for Pregnant Women
Guttmacher Institute | Good reproductive health policy starts with credible research