Article by Jackie Vicksman
In 2017, two weeks after Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria hit the already-struggling Caribbean. Hurricane Maria was a category 5 storm that affected several islands, including Puerto Rico. After a natural disaster, births rates normally rise due in part to increased sexual activity, but more-so a lack of access to adequate contraceptives and other reproductive services. With pharmacies, hospitals, and free clinics closed down, women have very limited options when it comes to family planning after a natural disaster. This includes abortion services. In the case of Puerto Rico, only one of six abortion clinics was still open after the hurricane hit. Vale Moreno, the director of the clinic, explained that the biggest challenge for women seeking abortions in the aftermath of the hurricane was transportation. The journey to the clinic from more rural areas was uncertain, as road conditions were often poor, which made getting an abortion much more difficult. Additionally, women were realizing that they were pregnant when they were further along in their pregnancies, as they had no access to pregnancy tests due to the closed pharmacies. All of these factors exacerbated the financial burden of seeking an abortion, and made it virtually impossible for some women, potentially contributing to a rise in health risks and complications.