Government policies on abortion are a longstanding topic of heated political debates. The COVID-19 pandemic shook health systems to the core adding further to the complexity of this topic, as imposed national lockdowns and movement restrictions affected access to timely abortion for millions of women across the globe. In this paper, we examine how countries within the European Union and the United Kingdom responded to challenges brought by the COVID-19 crisis in terms of access to abortion. By combining information from various sources, we have explored different responses according to two dimensions: changes in policy and protocols, and reported difficulties in access. Our analysis shows significant differences across the observed regions and salient debates around abortion. While some countries made efforts to maintain and facilitate abortion care during the pandemic through the introduction or expansion of use of telemedicine and early medical abortion, others attempted to restrict it further. The situation was also diverse in the countries where governments did not change policies or protocols. Based on our data analysis, we provide a framework that can help policy makers improve abortion access.
Bibliographical noteAccepted Author Manuscript
- Policy change