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.