Those of us advancing scientific research and facts to protect the right to access essential health services, including abortion and other reproductive health care, have a lot of work ahead. COVID-19 is creating new barriers to access, and posing urgent challenges—both those caused by the virus itself, and the antiabortion movement’s clear steps to exploit the crisis to advance its ideological agenda.
 
Around 70,000 people seek abortion care in the U.S. every month. This number is based off our national abortion data for 2017, and doesn’t even begin to reflect how people’s decision-making around abortion and pregnancy will be impacted by COVID-19. Yet, instead of meeting people’s reproductive health needs, opportunistic policymakers are seizing the moment to restrict or outright ban abortion care.
 
While it will take time to collect and rigorously analyze evidence to understand the full implications of this crisis on gender rights, as well as sexual and reproductive health and rights (including its impact on intimate partner violence, maternal health and mortality, access to abortion and contraception, and reproductive decisions and autonomy), it is clear the situation is not looking good for anyone in need of essential reproductive health care. 
 
Most concerning, the severity, confusion and length of this crisis is providing a thick smokescreen for the advancement of anti–reproductive rights policies. Anti-abortion politicians and activists are shamelessly exploiting the current pandemic to push ideological agendas and further enshrine discrimination and inequity in our health care system.

The full op-ed is available at Rewire.