Senator Higgins joins EPF colleagues in calling on governments to ensure sexual and reproductive rights are protected during the COVID-19 emergency
Even during a crisis, women have sexual and
reproductive healthcare needs which cannot wait. Governments should be
supporting access to essential SRHR services - unfortunately
some are actively using this as a chance to block it. As a member of
the the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, I
have been pressing governments across Europe to actively support
access to SHRR in their own countries and across the wider world. Last
week we produced a report on ’Sexual and Reproductive Rights during
the COVID-19 pandemic’ which described how many women and girls are
being left without essential medical services such as contraception and
abortion care, HIV and STI testing, reproductive cancer screenings, and
adequate pre and post-natal healthcare.
An IPPF survey showed 5.633
community-based care clinics closing across 64 countries, with African
countries being the most heavily impacted. EU member states should be
giving humanitarian and health support and including SHRR.
In terms of particularly time-sensitive healthcare such as abortion,
Ireland, the United Kingdom and Portugal have made provisions
for remote support of medical abortions, while Poland and Romania seem to
be using this crisis to undermine women’s access to rights
and reproductive healthcare.
Amid this crisis we have also seen a huge increase
in sexual and gender-based violence, an issue that
all governments must address head on.