CBS News reporter Kate Smith fears of a looming “health crisis” due to the abortion restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 lockdowns in some states.
In a lengthy op-ed for CBS News, Smith takes aim at several conservative states for allegedly using the lockdowns to create a “preview of a world without the landmark Supreme Court ruling” Roe v. Wade, a world where women have few or no options to terminate their pregnancy.
“As the coronavirus’ death toll continues to grow, another public health crisis is emerging,” Smith alarmingly writes. “At least eight states have restricted abortion as part of directives banning ‘non-essential’ medical procedures. In Texas, all of the state’s abortion providers were forced to stop offering services for more than four weeks. It marked the first time a state has banned legal abortion since Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure nearly 50 years ago.”
Julie Burkhart, the founder of Trust Women, a network of abortion clinics, said neighboring states without abortion restrictions are now overwhelmed, with some clinics facing a 400% increase in patients seeking abortions.
“One thing is just crystal clear to us, and that’s that this is a little peek through a ‘post-Roe’ window,” said Burkhart.
Nancy Northup, the chief executive officer for the Center for Reproductive Rights, echoed Burkhart’s sentiments. “This is exactly what you would see in a post-Roe world,” she said. “You’d see these very same states shut off access. It’s terrifying.”
After citing other such examples of overwhelmed clinics and women having to travel long distances to receive their desired abortions, Smith then worries of what the country may look like if the conservative majority on Supreme Court were to strike down Roe and allow other states to impose their own restrictions.
“Without Roe, states would be able to decide for themselves whether to legalize abortion,” she worries. “Abortion-rights group warn the effect would be a patchwork of access and service availability determined by a patient’s zip code.”
Smith’s article nearly echoes an op-ed from The New York Times editorial board in March, which strongly encouraged states to allow more access to abortion during the pandemic.
“Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care. It is also a time-sensitive service for which a delay of several weeks, or in some cases days, may increase the risks or potentially make it completely inaccessible,” NYT argued. “The consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health and well-being.”
The historic $2 trillion stimulus bill passed by Congress provided no relief funds for abortion providers. At the time, Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, denounced President Trump and the GOP for not allowing abortion clinics to benefit from the package.
“It has become shamefully clear that not even a global pandemic will stop the Trump administration or Republican Congressional leaders from attacking access to reproductive care,” said McGill Johnson in a statement. “Our leaders should be working to support the nation’s full network of safety-net health care providers during these uncertain times. Instead, the Senate bill targets Planned Parenthood and expands the harmful and discriminatory Hyde amendment, putting up even more barriers to care for women, people with low incomes, and communities of color.”