Journal Article

Preparing for an increased need for abortion access in India during and after COVID‐19: Challenges and strategies

Access to safe abortion is a reproductive rights and justice issue, and it is imperative that safe abortion access during and after the COVID‐19 pandemic is a reality for all. India imposed a lockdown in March 2020 to contain the spread of the pandemic. Limited mobility, lack of clarity about abortion as an essential service and abortion as a service permitted through telemedicine, shut down of services providing long‐acting and permanent methods of contraception, and changes to decision‐making about birthing and parenting during a pandemic are factors that may impact the demand for abortion during and after the lockdown. Shortage of raw materials and limited inter‐ and intra‐ state transport of drugs may result in breakages in the supply of medication abortion. Given that 73 percent of abortions in India in 2015 occurred outside of health facilities, the pandemic may have several implications on the need for evidence‐based information and quality abortion services, as well as if and how medication abortion is accessed in India, and what self‐managed abortion looks like in the COVID‐19 era. We discuss factors contributing to reduced access to abortion, changes in abortion need, and suggest strategies to respond to an increased demand for abortion in India.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.