The coronavirus outbreak is a public health emergency that challenges our presuppositions about healthcare and calls for new and creative ways to make healthcare accessible, while protecting and promoting life. But abortion activists are falsely representing this healthcare challenge as an opportunity to increase abortion services.
We’re currently confronting a problem of healthcare access. To promote social distancing, many healthcare clinics and services are restricting access to physical, brick-and-mortar locations for everything from elective procedures to routine healthcare. This is, of course, a sound decision, as it lowers the risk of infection for the sick and the healthy alike, and it reduces the strain on valuable healthcare resources. But the problem is that it also leaves a lot of Americans without access to the healthcare they need.
Pregnant women, in particular, are hit hard by this lack of access. In a country that already has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world, the coronavirus outbreak threatens to further restrict necessary, life-giving care to women. The outbreak is a time when mental illness is on the rise, financial instability and worry are growing and pregnant women’s physical health is potentially threatened by the novel coronavirus. For all of these reasons, pregnant women need new ways to get and maintain access to holistic, life-affirming care, without running the risk of coronavirus infection.
This is a difficult problem to solve, and women need help to solve it. But instead of helping women through this crisis, abortion providers are exploiting women’s healthcare needs for profit. Brick-and-mortar abortion clinics are fighting to stay open and capitalizing off of women’s anxiety and uncertainty to sell abortion services that women don’t need.
Abortion, whether pharmaceutical or surgical, exposes women to real medical risks. On top of that, abortion is strongly correlated with a plethora of adverse mental health outcomes. This threat to mental health should not be underestimated. Women who receive abortions are at a dramatically higher risk of suicide. And despite what a deeply flawed study has recently claimed, abortion takes a serious emotional toll on the women who receive it.
Yet the abortion industry is selling a false narrative that paints abortion as an essential health-service during this crisis. And this is at a time where we are all at risk for mental health issues. According to an Axios report, 43 percent of people said their emotional wellbeing had worsened the week of March 20. Adding the emotional aftermath of an abortion to that mental load does not take a patient’s whole health into consideration.
Robin Marty’s recent Time Magazine piece is a case in point. She argues that without ongoing access to abortion “healthcare,” pregnant women will suffer a “second health crisis,” one in which their mental, economic and physical well-being will be threatened, not by the coronavirus, but by their unmet pregnancy and childcare needs.
This story is false on several accounts. First and foremost, Marty misconstrues what it means to be pro-life. The pro-life position is not just about preventing women from getting abortions; rather, the pro-life position is about championing and fighting for the lives of both pre-born children and their mothers.
Being pro-life means caring for the whole woman by providing her with real benefits to her life, well-being and safety—both before, during and after a pregnancy. It looks holistically at all the factors contributing to a woman’s health over time – physical, emotional, social, mental and spiritual. Pro-life healthcare is not just pro-birth healthcare; it is long-term, life-affirming care for women, their children, and their families that aims to create lasting stability and well-rounded health.
Abortion services, by contrast, provide nothing but a fake “quick-fix”, addressing none of a woman’s underlying care needs, but adding to her mental burden.
We need to correct Marty on this point as well: abortion is not, by definition, “healthcare.” We seek healthcare, quite obviously, for our health and our well-being. We seek healthcare to protect lives, to extend lives and to improve lives. No matter how much abortion activists may dress it up in euphemisms and medical jargon, abortion kills an innocent human being. It is, therefore, not healthcare.
But Marty also claims that abortion is the only option available for women who are struggling to meet their care needs during this crisis. This is also false, since there are infinitely better options already available, options that are genuinely pro-life because they not only preserve the life of the child, but also champion the life of the mother.
Marty overlooks or is ignorant of the availability of holistic, life-affirming care delivered through tele-health solutions. At Human Coalition, we offer a virtual clinic fully staffed with professional nurses and social workers who provide pregnancy-related care to women in need. This includes assisting women physically, emotionally and tangibly. Services we either provide directly or help coordinate the provision of include vital necessities such as job training, job placement, utility assistance, parenting classes, drug and alcohol rehab, counseling, material assistance, and housing – all services that promote life, enhance women’s well-being and improve quality of life. And none of these services require killing the child. The healthcare available through our virtual clinic is thus legitimate care for the whole woman and the whole family.
America’s healthcare providers can and should follow suit. We can expand America’s tele-medicine offerings to provide women with real care, care that improves their mental and physical health and provides life-affirming support. At a time when we all need to be fighting for greater access to life-affirming care and working to protect vulnerable populations in our society from COVID-19, it’s unconscionable that the abortion industry and its activists are falsely claiming that abortion is the only option for women. While we seek to protect our country from COVID-19 and champion life, let’s also protect our most vulnerable population from abortion – still the leading cause of death in our nation.
Abortion is never the correct moral choice – and there is no need to think it is some sort of physical or emotional necessity for women experiencing hardship. Real healthcare doesn’t sell abortions; real healthcare puts women in a position to reject abortion and choose options which provide for the health and vitality of both mom and baby.
Brian Fisher is the President of Human Coalition and Human Coalition Action.