Coronavirus can't be an excuse to undermine women's abortion rights

Measures are urgently needed to safeguard women's access to abortion care in Europe

abortion rights
Abortion rights

Measures are urgently needed to safeguard women's access to abortion care in Europe

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting people all across the globe for different reasons. For many women and girls in Europe, accessing safe abortion care is proving extremely difficult, as there are significant restrictions in safely accessing essential sexual and reproductive health services and emergency contraception.

Nongovernmental organisations are calling on European governments to urgently guarantee safe and timely access to abortion care for women and girls in the region during the COVID-19 pandemic. Why now? Well, Poland’s parliament is currently preparing to debate a new law that would make its restrictive abortion laws significantly more stringent.

In the European Union, almost every country has legalised abortion on request or on broad social grounds - except Poland and Malta. They are the only EU member states that maintain highly restrictive laws on women's abortion rights.

And instead of European governments implementing measures to ensure safe and timely access to essential sexual and reproductive health services, supplies or information during the pandemic, many hospitals and clinics have reduced reproductive health services to a bare minimum, or closed altogether due to staff shortages and reassignments.

abortion rights

Not all European countries
allow abortion on request (Getty Images)

Worse, such abortion rights restrictions disproportionately impact women belonging to marginalised groups, including those living in poverty, women with disabilities, adolescents and survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Caroline Hickson, International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) Regional Director, told Marie Claire, 'While the pandemic is impacting every aspect of our lives, it should not be used as an excuse to undermine women’s rights to make decisions regarding their reproductive and health rights.'

Governments should absolutely recognise abortion as essential health care and should take measures to ensure that women and girls can safely access abortion care during these unprecedented times.

Olivia – who rebranded as Liv a few years ago – is a freelance digital writer at Marie Claire UK. She recently swapped guaranteed sunshine and a tax-free salary in Dubai for London’s constant cloud and overpriced public transport. During her time in the Middle East, Olivia worked for international titles including Cosmopolitan, HELLO! and Grazia. She transitioned from celebrity weekly magazine new! in London, where she worked as the publication’s Fitness & Food editor. Unsurprisingly, she likes fitness and food, and also enjoys hoarding beauty products and recycling.