Since the start of the pandemic, Ms. has been tracking the ways in which anti-choice politicians have used COVID-19 as a means of attacking reproductive healthcare providers to push forward their political agenda.
Aimee Arrambide, executive director of Pro-Choice Texas, is a major player in the fight to keep reproductive healthcare essential and accessible to women during this challenging time.
In a press release, Arrambide said:
“Texans are losing their jobs, they are struggling to put food on the table, they can’t get COVID-19 testing—meanwhile indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is doubling down on abortion.
“Let’s be clear, it is never the right time to play politics, but doing so in the wake of COVID-19 is a despicable low.
“Ken Paxton and Greg Abbott: Texans know abortion is a time-sensitive procedure that can not be delayed without profound consequences and Texans will remember that when they needed help during a pandemic, their state leaders were too busy politicizing and banning abortion care.”
With reproductive healthcare in Texas still very much in the air—changing at least five times in two weeks—Arrambide spoke to Ms. about the current state of reproductive healthcare in Texas and the ways that we can encourage our representatives to ensure that abortion be considered essential care.
Micaela Brinsley: How would you describe the current state of reproductive healthcare service providers in Texas?
Aimee Arrambide: Abortion care is essential healthcare and should be accessible without delay. Forcing Texans to remain pregnant when they don’t want to be—in the midst of a pandemic and massive economic insecurity—is absolutely cruel and a threat to public health.
However, as a result of Governor Abbott’s Executive Order and Attorney General Ken Paxton’s subsequent unprecedented guidance (issued via a press release, mind you), access to abortion care has been disjointed and confusing for Texans and providers.
MB: How can Texas expand access to abortion during this public health crisis?
AA: Governor Abbott has the authority to ensure that abortion care is accessible during this public health crisis. He could not only declare that abortion is essential healthcare, just as Massachusetts did, he could also lift the following restrictions that create medically unnecessary barriers: waiving mandatory, medically unnecessary waiting periods that lead to increased in-clinic visits; allow telemedicine for medication abortion; waive the mandated in-person follow-up appointment for medication abortion; extend the use of medication abortion from 70 days to the FDA allowable 77 days—which is already the standard of care in many states.
MB: How would removing medically unnecessary barriers to care and expanding access to telemedicine abortion assist those in Texas seeking reproductive healthcare services during the pandemic?
AA: Removing these medically unnecessary barriers would prevent multiple in-person visits which necessitates community interaction and the use of limited medical supplies by patients, clinic staff and providers.
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MB: What are some stories you’ve heard of Texas patients who’ve been denied access to abortion services and reproductive healthcare in the past month?
AA: Thousands of Texans trying to access abortion care have had to cancel or reschedule appointments, hundreds more have had to travel out-of-state to get the care they need and others are being forced to continue a pregnancy against their wishes during this public health crisis and period of economic uncertainty.
MB: What can citizens do to put pressure on politicians who are using COVID-19 as a means to push forward their political agenda?
AA: The actions of Governor Greg Abbott and AG Ken Paxton are cruel and are not indicative of best medical practices. Instead they are using this public health crisis to advance their political agenda. And they do so at the expense of Texans’ lives and families.
I would encourage people to sing out petition, call the governor’s office directly and urge him to ensure abortion remain accessible during the pandemic. He has the authority at any time to do this.
I would invite people to get involved and support NARAL Pro-Choice Texas so that in November we can hold elected leaders accountable and vote people in that prioritize Texans’ well-being by making sure abortion care is always accessible, especially for those most marginalized.
The coronavirus pandemic and the response by federal, state and local authorities is fast-moving. During this time, Ms. is keeping a focus on aspects of the crisis—especially as it impacts women and their families—often not reported by mainstream media. If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.