From our Central and Southern Ohio Field Organizer, Ariana Ybarra:
We’ve entered the 7th month of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. What has this pandemic meant for reproductive freedom?
For starters, contraceptives have been harder to access, especially for BIPOC, LGBTQ people, and disabled people. Due to the uncertainty of this pandemic and mass loss of or reduction of employment, more people are choosing to delay or avoid pregnancy — making access to contraceptives, including emergency contraceptive, incredibly important and necessary.
Telemedicine has become much more common and accessible because of COVID, with the exception of medication abortion. Medication abortions are incredibly safe and easy to administer in the comfort of your own home. While a federal judge did block the FDA from requiring in-person appointments for medication abortion, expansion and lifting of other restrictions is still needed to make medication abortion more accessible. For example, many private insurances plans don’t cover abortion care and the Hyde Amendment blocks federal funds from being used to cover abortion care. The Hyde Amendment most heavily affects BIPOC and low income people.
Many workplaces that are able have switched to remote work and schools and childcare have been closed (though many are preparing to reopen this fall). Juggling parenting and working is hard enough as is and now many parents are caring for their children around the clock, while also being expected to work from home. This switch has hit women much harder. Women already carry most of the responsibilities of housework and childcare, and that has increased over the past 6 months.
Unsurprisingly, many mothers are finding balancing childcare and working from home too difficult. As a result and since women, especially Black and Latina women, are paid less than their male counterparts, some mothers in heterosexual relationships who are able are deciding to leave their job or reduce their hours. Meanwhile their higher-earning husband/partner continues to work full-time. There has been a dramatic decrease in the amount of women in the workforce, and women who have gaps in their employment due to parenting often have a hard time reentering the workforce. A lot of the gains women have made over the past few decades in joining the workforce will be lost because of this pandemic.
These three examples aren’t all-encompassing, and as COVID continues we’ll likely see more repercussions against reproductive freedom unfold. All in all, COVID has put a magnifying glass on the inequalities and marginalization in our communities, especially among low income people, women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ people.