In West Virginia, there is only one abortion care clinic to serve the population of the entire state. In normal times, this clinic stays solidly booked for abortion procedures and follow-up care every month. Local as well as traveling doctors provide the medical services for patients.
West Virginia government officials used the pandemic to further attack abortion rights. In April, they suspended all elective medical procedures in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and included abortions, as if these could be delayed. Because these abortions could not be delayed, and were sometimes emergencies, the categorization as “elective” left this clinic and all of its patients in a terrible bind. Patients that had appointments in April had to be told to go to another state to have the procedure, placing yet another obstacle in their way. The West Virginia government lifted the suspension in May and for this clinic, it’s been a game of catch-up ever since, having to book abortion care appointments four weeks out.
Right now, there are six states in the U.S. which, like West Virginia, only have one abortion care provider for the entire state.
There are obvious flaws in this system we live in, and the pandemic has highlighted just how dangerous these flaws can be to our health and livelihoods. Whether it’s a lack of PPE, or depending on the sole abortion care provider in the entire state, it’s clear that the way society is organized does not serve us. Keeping women poor, stressed, and under the sway of a morality that attacks our choices, helps only the rich, who can afford to fly wherever to have an abortion, and never fear that they or their children will do without.
featured image credit: Vincent Alonzo