A recent Navigator poll makes one thing clear: Americans do not want abortion access restricted during the COVID-19 crisis.
Overall, sixty-five percent of poll respondents said politicians should not attack reproductive freedom during the pandemic.
The sentiment is universal across all political parties: 79 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of Independents, and over half of Republicans—51 percent—agreed.
“This poll illustrates that the American public stands on the side of reproductive freedom and that anti-choice politicians’ attempts to ban abortion during a global pandemic are not only unpopular, they’re also politically stupid,” Amanda Thayer, a spokesperson for NARAL Pro-Choice America, told Rewire.News.
Despite this clear message from Americans, politicians in states like Texas and Alabama attempted to use the pandemic to deem abortions as non-essential medical procedures—causing countless abortions to be cancelled or delayed during the pandemic. (Abortions are, of course, time-sensitive.)
Other states took a different approach to restrict abortion access by putting arduous, impossible obstacles in the way of women seeking an abortion. In Arkansas, for example, surgical abortions resumed April 27, but only if the patient tested negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours—”an absurd requirement considering testing in the United States is such a disaster that there aren’t even enough tests to administer to asymptomatic U.S. senators,” writes Rewire.News. The ACLU is suing.
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Further, while abortion pills are overwhelmingly safe to use at home, current FDA regulations dramatically restrict access to mifepristone (the abortion pill). Advocates are pursuing multiple strategies to challenge the restriction, from lawsuits to billboards.
Debates surrounding reproductive rights are also central to cases the Supreme Court is hearing remotely. The court already heard arguments regarding whether businesses must provide contraceptive coverage. While the arguments lobbied against employer coverage of birth control were “dishonest, damaging and delusional,” it is not clear what the Court’s decision will be.
The Supreme Court is also deciding whether or not requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals is legal. Although the case originated in Louisiana, its effects may be far-reaching, further limiting abortion access in up to fifteen states.
President Trump has made his abortion opposition clear, and reproductive rights continue to be restricted in numerous states, but America has spoken:
Women must maintain the right to their own bodily decisions.