Legal and policy responses to the delivery of abortion care during COVID-19

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2020 Sep 15. doi: 10.1002/ijgo.13377. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Access to abortion care has long been a global challenge, even in jurisdictions where abortion is legal. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated barriers to access, thereby preventing many women from terminating unwanted pregnancies for an extended period. In this paper, we outline existing and COVID-specific barriers to abortion care and consider potential solutions, including the use of telemedicine, to overcome barriers to access during the pandemic and beyond. We explore the responses of governments throughout the world to the challenge of abortion access during the pandemic, which are an eclectic mix of progressive, neutral, and regressive policies. Finally, we call on all governments to recognize abortion as essential healthcare and act to ensure that the law does not continue to interfere with providers' ability to adapt to circumstances and to guarantee safe and appropriate care not only during the pandemic, but permanently.

Keywords: Abortion; Autonomy; COVID-19; Reproductive health; Reproductive rights; Sexual health; Telemedicine.