As has been stated a thousand times before, we are in unprecedented times. The novel coronavirus has forced many to stay inside our homes and self-quarantine, so that we protect ourselves and others from contracting the virus. However, while this may protect us from the virus, this practice of social distancing and self-isolation is taking a hit on many people’s mental health.
The people who may feel most alone are women with unplanned pregnancies. As a woman who had an unplanned pregnancy at just twenty years old, I experienced feelings of worry, hopelessness, and despair. I had never felt more alone. Women with unplanned pregnancies are feeling more alone than ever, and may think that abortion is their only way out. Even with states closing down businesses like hair salons and coffee shops, abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood are considered by some to be an “essential service,” so abortion-friendly states are making sure that they stay open. Listed below are some ways that you can ensure women do not turn to Planned Parenthood during their crisis pregnancy and instead choose life.
1. Reach Out. If you know of a woman who is going through an unplanned pregnancy, make sure to reach out regularly through texting, calling, or video call. Just because you can not be physically present with her, does not mean that you can not provide support over the phone or computer. Use the 2020 technology to your advantage. If the woman stresses that she feels she has no one to talk to, encourage her to reach out to her local pregnancy center, which may be able to provide over the phone counseling free of charge.
2. Offer Assistance. Many women with unplanned pregnancies consider abortion because they do not have the finances to support a child. If you are financially stable enough, consider supporting a woman with an unplanned pregnancy by offering to help with rent or groceries for a month. Additionally, you can also offer to drop off groceries to her house, if she does not feel comfortable with going to the grocery store during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some women with unplanned pregnancies come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and may depend on mass transit to get to doctors’ appointments. You can offer to drive them if you are healthy and feel comfortable, so that they do not have to risk catching the coronavirus while on the bus.
3. Offer to Babysit. Many single mothers work multiple part time jobs in order to support and provide for their families. Pregnant women who already have children may not have the luxury of staying at home if they are considered to be an essential worker. Essential workers are not only doctors and nurses, but they are also mail carriers, grocery store clerks, and bus drivers. Not all day cares are currently open, so if the woman is an essential worker but has children at home who need to be watched, you can offer to babysit for free. Please only do this if you feel comfortable and only if you are healthy. It is suggested that you take your temperature before you go anywhere, as one of the first signs of the coronavirus is a fever. It is also important to note that some carriers of the coronavirus are asymptomatic, so please do not be offended if the woman does not want to utilize your services at this time. She is trying to make the best decision for her family and make sure her children stay healthy and safe.
4. Provide Resources. Many people who are no longer able to work now qualify for unemployment. Connect her with resources to obtain unemployment benefits if her job was lost due to the coronavirus pandemic, and ask her if she needs more assistance. The government has many programs such as SNAP food stamps, and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, to make sure that no family goes hungry. They also have Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for those who may need financial assistance. Pregnancy resource centers also often provide diapers, wipes, clothing, and other necessities to new mothers in need.
5. Ask Her. When in doubt, ask the woman how you can best assist her. What she needs more than anything is someone to listen to how she is feeling, and provide her support without judgment. She may bring up abortion, and it is not your place to judge, but rather to listen, and provide her with alternative resources. Once you have gained her trust, she will be able to tell you what she needs more clearly.
These are just a few ideas for things you can do if you know a woman is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy during COVID-19. At a time where abortion centers are deemed to provide “essential services,” we must remind the pro-choice community that we offer an essential service. We can provide women with love, support, and resources. She does not have to think that abortion is her only option, and with your support and guidance, she just might choose life.