Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Abortion in the context of COVID-19: a human rights imperative

April 21, 2010, Jaime Todd-Gher and Payal Shah have published a new article in Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, discussing why abortion is an essential health service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amidst states' evolving emergency responses, the authors make the case that abortion care must be included and ensured from the outset and access must be provided in bold, novel and evidence-based ways. The authors discuss states' human rights obligations which include a duty to ensure that individuals do not have to undertake unsafe abortions when faced with a pregnancy that is unwanted and/or threatens their life or health.  These obligations are not waived in times of crisis; in fact, they become more pressing. 

The article calls for enabling self-managed abortion by guaranteeing access to medications and telemedicine counseling and ensuring women are not criminalized for inducing their own abortions as a critical step towards fulfilling states’ binding human rights obligations and avoiding preventable abortion complications, including during the COVID-19 crisis. While not a solution in all cases and contexts, it could be an important step forward. Countries like Ireland, England, and France have already taken this step. 




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