In recent weeks, some states have issued directives to halt abortion care in response to the spread of COVID-19. Using the argument that abortion care is “non-essential”, anti-abortion governors in Texas, Ohio, Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Iowa have used the COVID-19 pandemic to political ends, restricting access to abortion for pregnant people in need of this care. And additional bans and restrictions may be on their way: in other states, anti-abortion groups have started to organize and encourage similar measures. Less known is that the recent federal bill in response to the pandemic, the CARES Act, includes anti-abortion provisions as well.
Make no mistake—conservative attacks on abortion are nothing new. The COVID-19 pandemic has simply presented an additional opportunity to undermine reproductive rights and keep pregnant people from accessing abortion care. In this commentary, we provide an overview of anti-abortion actions in six states, and within the recently passed CARES Act. We also present information on how abortion is essential, time-sensitive care, and root this context in the reproductive justice (RJ) framework.