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Sexual and Reproductive Health During the Pandemic

COVID-19 has not stopped people from having sex and reproducing, despite strained health-care systems. The crisis is an opportunity for policymakers to support initiatives that give women and girls more power over their immediate needs and improve access to critical services in the long term.

NEW YORK – The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted almost every aspect of life, but not sex. Both wanted and unwanted intimacy occurs during a pandemic. With reduced mobility and less access to clinics and hospitals, ensuring quality and timely reproductive health care is more important than ever.

The virus has revealed stark inequities in medicine – and not only in emergency care. Even before COVID-19, adolescent girls, migrants, minorities, people with disabilities, and LGBTQI+ people faced discrimination in doctors’ waiting rooms. The crisis is an opportunity for policymakers to support initiatives that give women and girls more power over their immediate needs and improve access to critical services in the long term.

The first priority is to make oral contraceptives available over the counter. This will increase safety, access, and use. In most places, a prescription is required, which prevents women from being fully in control of their bodies. It also may interfere with a patient’s access to care free of abuse or privacy violations. This is especially true for teenagers, gender non-conforming people, domestic violence victims, and others who fear discrimination or disrespect in clinical settings.

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