Ed. Note: This viewpoint was first published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2020, 52(2):81–85; doi:10.1363/psrh.12152.
The COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the world, altering nearly every facet of contemporary life and causing behavioral and socioeconomic changes that seemed unthinkable a few months ago. The increased risks for human health include not just the dangers posed by the virus itself, but also the upheaval to the broader health care and societal landscapes, which has threatened access to critical sexual and reproductive health services. In this viewpoint, we describe how the pandemic has already posed challenges to reproductive autonomy in both the United States and globally, and then offer insights on how it may do so in the future. We conclude with a call not only to resist a rollback of access to reproductive health care during this pandemic, but to center a broad conception of reproductive autonomy in sexual and reproductive health research, policies and programs moving forward.
Leigh Senderowicz is a Health Disparities Research Scholar and a member of the Collaborative for Reproductive Equity (CORE); and Jenny Higgins is professor, Department of Gender and Women's Studies and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and director of CORE—both at the University of Wisconsin—Madison.