Women’s rights activists protest a draft law tightening Poland’s strict antiabortion law in Warsaw (Czarek Sokolowski/AP). Cited in https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/09/26/coronavirus-pandemic-global-abortion-access-reproductive-health/

Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more challenging for women and girls to access reproductive health services, with an estimated 47 million women potentially cut off from modern contraception, according to the UN. In addition to clinic closures and barriers to medical care, the pandemic has halted progress in abortion decriminalization in many countries. For instance, in Argentina, the lower house passed a bill in 2018 to legalize abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, but once Congress went virtual in March, the bill was delayed, indefinitely. Colombia was also on the cusp of change, but in early March, the court ruled not to change the existing law that only permits abortion in cases of rape, risk to mother’s life, or involves a fetus with serious medical problems. The pandemic further made it challenging for citizens to access reproductive services. In addition, Poland has one of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws, which Parliament discussed tightening in April. On the other hand, in England, Wales, and Scotland, emergency legislation in March has allowed consultation and medically induced abortions to be provided online, with pills sent to homes. The outcomes have shown this to be safe and effective. Finally, in Northern Ireland, the pandemic was the final push for a requirement of implementing abortion services. Overall, while advances have been made in some countries, the lasting effects of the pandemic on sexual and reproductive health will be enduring.

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