The COVID-19 pandemic reduced access to essential reproductive health services and brought new legal and logistical obstacles for people seeking care across the world. Since the start of the pandemic, the Center for Reproductive Rights has been on the front lines of ensuring that reproductive health services are prioritized—through advocacy, policy development, litigation, and the creation of new programs and research initiatives.
From a pro bono legal assistance program in Europe to fact-finding reports in Pakistan to advocacy tools in Latin America, below are some of the highlights of the Center’s COVID-19 resources and initiatives in regions around the world. Click here for a complete list of the Center’s COVID-19 Resources.
Europe: Pro Bono Legal Assistance for Health Professionals
In Europe, the Center established the COVID-19 SRHR Pro Bono Clearinghouse to connect health professionals and civil society organizations with global law firms that provide free legal advice on the delivery of and access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services during the pandemic. The law firms offer legal expertise in a range of European jurisdictions, as well as EU and European human rights law. Learn more.
Pakistan: Reporting on the Impact of COVID-19 on SRHR in the Sindh Province
The Center collaborated with the Collective for Social Science Research to conduct a fact-finding on the impact of the pandemic on SRHR in Sindh province, which includes Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi. After the initiative found that the availability of reproductive health care declined with the onset of the pandemic, the Center made recommendations to the government, courts and civil society to take steps to ensure availability of SRHR services during the pandemic. Read the full report.
Philippines: Forum on Equal Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic for Filipino Women and Girls
In March 2020, the Center and local partners held a virtual forum on initiatives to ensure an equal and just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic for Filipino women and girls. The forum, moderated by the Center’s Jihan Jacob, Senior Legal Advisor, included panel discussions on SRHR during the pandemic, unsafe abortion, and the role of young people in leadership. Watch a replay of the forum.
Latin America and the Caribbean: Tools to Hold States Accountable for Protecting SRHR During the Pandemic
In Latin America, the Center created La Salud Reproductiva es Vital (Reproductive Health is Essential), a research and monitoring initiative to expose the negative impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on SRHR in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Peru, and Uruguay. This instrument has served as a valuable advocacy tool for civil society organizations to understand States’ obligations to protect SRHR during the pandemic and to examine how rights are being protected in practice. Read more about the initiative.
In December, the Center led a coalition of 14 civil society organizations across eight Latin American countries to create a website and technical guidance document on SRHR and COVID-19. The guidance lays out five essential conditions that States must meet to guarantee women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health during COVID-19: access to (i) abortion, (ii) maternal health care, (iii) family planning and contraception, and (iv) information on SRHR—and (v) meeting their obligation to ensure equality and non-discrimination. The guidance provides tools to advocate for health care continuity and access to reproductive health services, free from discrimination, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out the website.
Asia: Newsletters on SRHR During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Center’s Asia team publishes a quarterly newsletter covering SRHR during the pandemic in Cambodia, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. Each publication reports on the availability of SRHR resources including access to contraception, maternal health care, and abortion. The publications also report on the social and economic issues many women and girls are now facing. Read the latest newsletter and other publications on COVID-19 issues in Asia.
United States: Fact Sheets and Litigation to Protect Access to Reproductive Care During COVID-19
Early in the pandemic, some state officials attempted to use the pandemic as an excuse to block access to abortion care. The Center and its partners quickly filed several lawsuits to challenge those state orders and protect access. Because of these legal actions, abortion care was able to resume in every state in the U.S. More on the lawsuits here.
The Center has also published over a dozen fact sheets and articles on a range of topics, including Expanding Telemedicine Can Ensure Abortion Access During COVID-19 Pandemic, Youth Reproductive Rights and the COVID-19 Response, Safeguarding Maternal Health and Rights During the COVID-19 Pandemic, and many others. More COVID-19 Resources can be found here.
The Center will continue to address the legal and logistical obstacles to reproductive health care during COVID-19 pandemic in its efforts to protect and advance reproductive rights and access to life-saving obstetrics care, contraception, maternal health, and safe abortion services around the world. Check back as the Center adds more COVID-19 Resources in the weeks and months ahead.