The coronavirus has everyone concerned with their health. Facemasks and gloves are a must during this time — but some lawmakers are using coronavirus to push a different healthcare agenda.
In February 2020, Florida state legislators passed a bill requiring minors to ask for parental consent when seeking an abortion. As COVID-19 slowly began to spread, Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas ordered an immediate halt to all non-necessary surgeries — including abortions where the mother’s life is not at risk.
In an interview with Vice News, one 17-year-old “Jane Doe” explained the process of getting an abortion in Florida. Fortunately, she was able to get a judicial bypass: the approval from a judge to receive the abortion, so long as the request was filed in the same county as the minor lives. After reaching out to Jane’s Due Process, a facility that helps women navigate the abortion system, she explained how the legal system treated her.
“[The judge] asked why I didn’t want to go through with the pregnancy, and if I knew the abortion could risk my fertility. That kind of scared me, but the person I was talking to at Jane’s Due Process already prepared me for that and told me that wasn’t true.”
According to Dr. Jen Gunter of the New York Times, abortion is not linked to a risk of infertility, as shown in data collected by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
As of March 1, only 29 states require that sex-education be given, 27 of which include HIV and AIDS education. As for Florida, sex-ed options are left up to the various school districts, many of which follow abstinence-only teaching.
Other restrictions in Florida include:
- In-person, state-mandated counseling is necessary in order to influence the decision of the person seeking an abortion.
- An ultrasound is required before the abortion occurs; these two can happen on the same day.
- Only a licensed physician can perform the abortion, regardless of the qualifications of other healthcare professionals.
In regards to the Texas abortion ban, neighboring states have seen an increase in their abortion rates as a result. NPR reports that “clinics in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada saw 129 patients from Texas between March 23 and April 14, compared with 16 Texas patients during the entire month of February.”
But as Dr. Kristina Tocce explains in her NPR interview, these restrictions ultimately endanger women in more ways than one, as travel is not currently safe. The fight against abortion risks the safety of countless people.
There are more than one health concerns to consider during this pandemic. Fortunately, there are still facilities and officials fighting for women’s right to choose. Many Planned Parenthood locations are still open with reduced hours. See https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn for more information and how help is still available.