Millions of Women Lose Access to Birth Control Due to COVID-19

Between January and June of this year, a report from Marie Stopes International found about 2 million women around the world lost access to birth control due to the coronavirus pandemic as compared to the same period last year. 

The organization, which provides family planning services in 37 countries, said that as a result, about 900,000 unplanned pregnancies, 1.5 million unsafe abortions, and more than 3,000 birth-related deaths will take place globally. 

The U.N. Population Fund said that the number of unplanned pregnancies could increase to about 7 million. Reportedly, girls in Kenya are taking desperate measures, resorting to using broken glass, sticks, and sharp objects to end their pregnancies. 

This year’s lockdowns, limited clinics, and travel restrictions have contributed to the lack of access to contraception. The International Planned Parenthood Federation reported the supply for birth control in West Africa fell by 50%, and in India, 1.3 million fewer women received reproductive services. 

Many countries don’t view abortions as a priority during the pandemic, but India isn’t one of them. They view abortions as a necessary medical service during the lockdowns. Unfortunately, many women aren’t aware they can receive abortions during the shutdown and will seek out costly and dangerous late-term abortions in desperation.

The Realist Woman’s take:

Abortion is a necessary medical service at all times, pandemic or otherwise. This is yet another unfortunate example of how this pandemic has upended the lives of so many women and girls around the world. 

Young women shouldn’t have to take desperate measures to terminate their own pregnancies. And many women are dying from giving birth at home instead of medical centers, which have been overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. 

Telemedicine, home deliveries of contraception, and home-based abortions have been utilized to make up for the lack of in-person medical services. Women are resorting to dangerous tactics and are doing the best they can under these unprecedented circumstances. But more needs to be done for women worldwide or these situations are only going to get worse.