Lancet: Abortion Services Must Be Central in Global COVID-19 Response

President of Planned Parenthood Leana Wen speaks during a protest against abortion bans, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, outside the Supreme Court in Washington. A coalition of dozens of groups held a National Day of Action to Stop the Bans, with other events planned throughout the week. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

The left-wing Lancet journal has declared that sexual and reproductive health services must be considered essential and given central attention in the response to COVID-19.

“A sexual and reproductive health and justice policy agenda must be at the heart of the COVID-19 response,” states an article this week in the once prestigious journal.

“A sexual and reproductive health and justice framework — one that centres human rights, acknowledges intersecting injustices, recognises power structures, and unites across identities — is essential for monitoring and addressing the inequitable gender, health, and social effects of COVID-19,” it asserts.

Even prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the Lancet had thrown down the ideological gauntlet for 2020, underscoring its ongoing commitment to progressive values, especially regarding gender.

In its unsigned January 4 editorial, the journal declared that a “backlash against women’s rights is growing,” while proceeding to highlight women’s “sexual and reproductive health.”

For the Lancet, pro-life victories in favor of the inalienable right to life of all human beings — the born and the unborn — constitute a “backlash against women’s rights,” even when some of those victories specifically pinpoint the horrendous practice of sex-selective abortion, which overwhelmingly targets girls for elimination in the womb.

“2020 is set to be a year of milestones for women, gender equity, and health,” the editorial declared, highlighting important anniversaries of United Nations events and programs, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 25 years “since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.”

“Despite the pledges made in Beijing in 1995, the global community’s commitments to SDG 3 and SDG 5, and the increasingly compelling body of evidence for how gender inequalities shape health, perhaps the most striking feature of the past 25 years has been the neglect of gender equality by mainstream public health and development programming,” the article declares.

The Lancet affirmed its commitment to deepen of “our engagement with gender equity,” a task which “must be explicitly feminist, intersectional, and global, with an emphasis on structural and institutional level change.”

“Gender will be prioritised as a cross-cutting theme within our ongoing migration and health Commission, and follow-up work is planned for our Commissions on women and health, and sexual and reproductive health and rights,” the article stated.

In this week’s essay, the journal said that global responses to the coronavirus pandemic “are converging with pervasive, existing sexual and reproductive health and justice inequities to disproportionately impact the health, wellbeing, and economic stability of women, girls, and vulnerable populations,” despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of victims of the disease are male.

“Disruption of services and diversion of resources away from essential sexual and reproductive health care because of prioritising the COVID-19 response are expected to increase risks of maternal and child morbidity and mortality,” the essay alleges.

“Sexual and reproductive health providers and clinics, which are the primary care providers and safety net for women of reproductive aged, youth, those uninsured for health care, and people on low incomes in many countries including in the USA, may also be deemed non-essential and diverted to respond to COVID-19,” the Lancet laments.

Past humanitarian crises have shown that reduced access to abortion and other reproductive services results in many problems, it continues. “Additionally, systemic racism, discrimination, and stigma are likely to further compound logistical barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health care for women and marginalised groups.”

The Lancet makes use of the essay to criticize the U.S. Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) as well as the Mexico City policy, which blocks U.S. aid to “foreign non-governmental organisations that provide, counsel, refer, or advocate for abortion services.”

The U.K.-based Lancet, founded in 1823 as a medical journal, has mutated into a bullhorn for what it calls “the progressive agenda,” squandering its hard-earned moral and scientific capital on issues such as climate change, abortion, immigration, and gay and transgender rights.

At a time when hard science is needed and objective facts are hard to come by, the Lancet has opted for political ideology. Those seeking science will have to look elsewhere.


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