But according to providers, that’s not accurate. “It is critical to understand that neither medication abortion nor procedural abortion requires extensive personal protective equipment (PPE)—and the conservation of PPE is the stated reason for state orders directing providers and health systems to delay nonessential procedures and surgeries,” says Elisabeth Smith, chief counsel of state policy and advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “In Texas, Attorney General Paxton said that most abortions, other than those performed in an immediate medical emergency, would violate the Executive Order, but this does not make sense, especially in the context of medication abortion.
I live in New York State, where abortion clinics are considered essential services that can continue operating during this time, but some states—such as Texas, Ohio, and Louisiana—have tried using the coronavirus pandemic as a new means of restricting abortions, forcing clinics to cancel patients’ appointments for both surgical and medicated abortions by deeming them “unessential services. ” The only exception?
But getting an abortion pre-coronavirus was nearly impossible for many women—the thought of getting one during a pandemic was terrifying. “The reasons people seek abortions do not go away during a pandemic,” says Jen Villavicencio, M. D. , an ob-gyn, abortion caregiver, and fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health. “There will still be health concerns, severe fetal diagnoses, financial barriers, desires to preserve family resources, and many other very important, well-thought-out reasons—in fact, many of these reasons and needs will likely increase during times of crisis.
Many states, such as Texas, require women to make two trips to a clinic to access medication abortion. “These restrictions are medically unnecessary all the time, but now put patients and providers at risk unnecessarily through additional and medically unnecessary face-to-face contact,” says Smith.
Since the order in Texas was placed on March 23, Amna Dermish, M. D. , regional medical director at Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, notes that their clinics across the state had to cancel 261 appointments for patients seeking abortions and turn away 583 calls for patients who are trying to make appointments during that same week. “These people need access to a time-sensitive service, and we had to be the ones to call them and say that we can't take care of you right now.
"I had an abortion during a pandemic—and it was traumatic." https://t.co/F1352AmlBo— Glamour (@glamourmag) April 3, 2020