'I see a danger in returning to a pre-Roe world:' Abortion advocates view coronavirus-era restrictions as a dark sign of what could come
May 15, 2020
In non-pandemic times, obtaining an abortion already presented serious legal and logistical challenges for millions of women. For patients who live in certain states, getting care means enduring state-imposed waiting periods, submitting to unnecessary ultrasounds, or rushing to receive care before an arbitrary legal deadline. For patients who already have children, care must be arranged. Those without a car need a ride, especially if the nearest clinic is hours away. Some need flights to more accommodating states. And many, many need funds.
But women seeking abortions since the coronavirus outbreak began faced a new challenge — states' attempts to temporarily limit or ban abortion outright by deeming them "non-essential" procedures, under the pretext of preserving medical supplies for COVID-19 treatment. These restrictions collided with the travel and social distancing restrictions put in place to limit the spread of the virus, leading to an even more precarious situation for abortion care than the one already in place.
Texas Abortion Patients Arrive in Colorado Clinics ‘Frustrated and Exhausted’
People are making the grueling drive from Texas to Colorado for abortion care after Gov. Greg Abbott (R) used the COVID-19 pandemic to suspend abortion rights.
Apr 20, 2020
Dr. Rebecca Cohen now recognizes Texas area codes calling the Comprehensive Women’s Health Center in Denver.
In recent weeks, pregnant people have found their access to legal abortion increasingly compromised by the COVID-19 crisis. And many are looking to Colorado—an abortion care oasis—in desperation.
Texas’s Opportunistic Abortion Ban Puts Women’s Lives at Risk
by Dr. Sara Simons
I was midway through my volunteer shift for a Texas abortion fund hotline when the Texas attorney general banned abortions.
I realized something was amiss when I spoke to a college student who had called our hotline that morning, March 23, seeking funding for her procedure.
By the time I reached her that afternoon, the clinic where her appointment was scheduled for March 25 had been shut down until April 21.
Abortion clinics see increased demand amid coronavirus: 'The calls ... are frantic'
David Crary, Associated Press
Apr 14, 2020
NEW YORK – The coronavirus outbreak has fueled attempts to ban abortions in some states, but providers where the procedure remains available report increased demand, often from women distraught over economic stress and health concerns linked to the pandemic.
“The calls we’ve been getting are frantic,” said Julie Burkhart, who manages clinics in Wichita, Kansas, and Oklahoma City. “We’ve seen more women coming sooner than they would have because they’re scared they won’t be able to access the services later.”
The State’s Ban Isn’t Stopping Texans From Getting Abortions
The order from Governor Greg Abbott, closing abortion clinics through April 21, has sent many out of state to seek the procedure—in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
By Arielle Avila
Apr 13, 2020
Update: On Thursday evening, federal judge Lee Yeakel blocked parts of the state's temporary abortion ban, allowing clinics to legally offer certain abortion procedures. On Friday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the ban, with limited exceptions.
More than one hundred patients at Whole Woman’s Health facilities in Texas were turned away on March 31 for appointments that some had scheduled the day before. The morning of the 31st, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that an executive order banning abortion during the coronavirus outbreak could remain in place, reversing a federal judge’s block of it, meaning that many who hours before thought they could go through with their appointments now could not. According to Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO and president of the organization, patients were begging, often in desperation, to see the clinicians. But with the order back in place, there was nothing doctors could do except provide funds for some patients to fly to get their abortions out of state, increasing their risk of being exposed to the coronavirus or unwittingly exposing others.
There’s nothing pro-life about exploiting a pandemic to further a political agenda
It’s already apparent a small minority of zealots will do everything they can to use the coronavirus crisis to eradicate the right to an abortion
Sat 4 Apr 2020
Coronavirus is an unprecedented public health crisis. But, for some Republicans, it’s also a political opportunity: anti-abortion activists are ruthlessly using the pandemic as an excuse to crack down on reproductive rights. Six conservative states – Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas – have categorized abortions as non-essential, except in very limited cases, effectively banning access to the procedure during the pandemic.
Federal judges have stopped the bans from going into effect in most of these states. However, on Tuesday an appeals court ruled that Texas could reinstate its abortion ban. On the same day women were told that their reproductive rights were considered dispensable, Texas’s Governor Greg Abbott declared that religious services were “essential” and in-person gatherings could continue during the pandemic. This is despite the fact that there have been multiple cases of coronavirus spreading in places of worship, with people dying as a result.
Abortion Foes Use the Pandemic as an Excuse
Officials hope to achieve their goal of effectively banning the procedure.
March 26, 2020
Who would have thought COVID-19 would give anti-abortion forces the quick victory they could not win in the courts, in the legislative process, or through the deployment of screaming protesters outside clinics? Claiming abortion is a nonessential service that can be postponed so that the clinics’ medical resources can be used to fight the coronavirus, officials in Texas, Ohio, and Louisiana have moved to severely restrict or cut off abortion services completely; the governor of Mississippi announced his intention this week to do the same. Opponents of women’s reproductive rights hope to achieve, with the stroke of a pen, their dream of making states abortion-free.
For patients at these clinics, the situation is terrifying. “We have patients crying on the phone and staff crying with them,” Kathaleen Pittman, the director of Hope Medical Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, told me. “This is hard. So hard.” The clinic is open but has postponed all of its appointments. “We’re looking at all our options,” Pittman said.
Abortion Providers Are Acting as Travel Agents. That’s Wrong.
The spread of COVID-19 will only further complicate the efforts to get abortion patients to clinics safely and efficiently.
Mar 25, 2020
David S. Cohen & Carole Joffe
We will not find out for a few months how the recently argued U.S. Supreme Court case, June Medical v. Russo, will be decided. But lurking behind the Court’s first abortion case since President Donald Trump appointed two anti-abortion justices is an underappreciated aspect of abortion care in the United States: the extent to which abortion providers serve as de facto travel agents for patients.
If the Supreme Court rules against abortion rights in this case, an already challenging situation will become much worse. But even before the Court rules, the COVID-19 crisis is already complicating abortion care and putting more pressure on providers to troubleshoot travel issues.
The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Forcing Abortion Providers to Make Impossible Decisions
Mar 24, 2020
The Choices Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, a small clinic in Tennessee, had two doctors providing abortion care until a few days ago. The center, which draws patients from all over the region, sees anywhere between 20 and 40 patients a week, according to its assistant director Katy Leopard: They come from Mississippi, where there is only one clinic providing this kind of care, and from Arkansas, where abortions can be hard to come by, and sometimes from even as far as Kentucky.
In the United States, an estimated 11.3 million women live more than an hour’s drive from an abortion provider, and often doctors will split their time between clinics to provide more geographically comprehensive care. Last year, the Los Angeles Times shadowed a provider who performed 50 abortions in 60 hours when she “commuted” from California to Texas, a feat that now given a roiling pandemic and orders from state governments to “just stay home” seems difficult, if not impossible, to imagine. But clinic workers and reproductive health advocates are trying to manage, considering that even in moments of global crisis, unwanted pregnancies don’t stop.
For some Texans, nearest abortion clinic is 250 miles away
David Crary, Ap National Writer
Monday, September 9, 2019
After seven states passed sweeping abortion bans this year, speculation soon arose about the potentially onerous travel burdens the laws could someday impose on women seeking to end unwanted pregnancies.
Across a huge swath of West Texas and the Panhandle, there's no need for speculation. The nearest abortion clinics are more than 250 miles away, despite the region having several midsize cities and a population of more than 1 million people.