Our world, our nation, and our communities are facing uncertainty, instability, and a rising healthcare crisis due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Amid the crisis, the message that Abortion Care Network (ACN) continues to hear from our members is this: We are here.
Abortion Care Network members — independent clinics and allies alike — are here. They are caring for patients and helping pregnant people navigate increasingly challenging and complex healthcare landscapes. They are working with legal advocates, lawmakers and allies pushing back against legal barriers to care. They are funding abortions, making art, conducting evidence-based research, and communicating accurate, necessary information to the public. ACN is proud to be a part of the community of independent clinics and organizations working to ensure that patients can access timely, dignified abortion care. We’re here, too, and working hard to support our members.
Independent abortion care providers are resilient. For decades, they have operated in the states most politically hostile to reproductive health, providing care when and where others do not. They are no strangers to providing care during times of crises. These clinics are dealing with many of the same challenges that healthcare providers across the US are facing. There are insurmountable barriers to accessing healthcare in the US, and abortion is no different. And because of the way that abortion has been over-regulated, politicized, and stigmatized, abortion clinics are often treated differently than their medical peers.
Like healthcare providers everywhere, independent abortion clinics are adjusting their practices in accordance with COVID-19 guidance. ACN member clinics are following CDC guidelines and clinical best practices to keep patients and staff safe and healthy, as they always have. In some places, clinics may be scaling back or temporarily pausing some services. Where laws and capacity allow, other clinics are expanding hours, innovating, and providing care via telemedicine. They are all committed to helping patients find and access abortion care.
The challenges that independent abortion clinics and their patients have had to contend with all along have not disappeared. Medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion raised enormous barriers before the pandemic, and those barriers have the potential to become increasingly insurmountable now. Those barriers will continue to disproportionately impact people of color, young people, people with disabilities and underlying medical conditions, poor folks, and other oppressed and marginalized communities.
It’s unjust that some patients may not be able to access abortion care because of the way that anti-abortion politicians have tried to push that care out of reach. That was true before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the injustice is simply more stark now.
Keeping patients and providers at the center of our work requires us to ask for what we need during this crisis. To be frank: clinics need financial support to keep their doors open and continue caring for patients.
We know that many people are facing financial pressures, uncertainty, and instability right now. Alarming clinic closure rates mean that patients already have to travel too far for care, and that unjust bans on coverage mean that they must pay out-of-pocket for medical and travel costs. This is a time when we’ll all need to take care of each other and ourselves. For those who are able, donating to independent abortion clinics — always but especially now — helps ensure that patients can get the care they need.
It’s time to care for the caretakers so that they can focus on their patients and communities. Clinics need to be able to pay staff, provide paid sick time and family medical leave, and pay their rent and bills. Those able to support patients and clinics should know that their dollars are helping to take care of both the staff and patients of independent clinics.
This moment is unprecedented, and independent abortion care providers are rising to the occasion. The need for abortion care continues to exist now and will throughout this pandemic, and our members remain committed to providing that care. We know that we are stronger together, abortion care is essential health care, and independent clinics need our support.