Dear friends, partners, supporters, colleagues,
In February 2020, Women on Waves collaborated with the launch of the Liberate the Abortion Pill Crown campaign. Only a week later the world closed down due to Corona virus. Considering "corona" means "crown" in Spanish, we now realize how symbolic this campaign was for the rest of the year! Also telling that the campaign was censored by Instagram and Facebook.......
Women on Waves also continued to research and publish scientific papers about the Women on Web service
The research and publications since Women on Web started providing the first telemedical abortions ever 15 years ago, show it is safe, effective and highly acceptable for women. Especially now, during the Corona crisis, telemedical abortion services are the solution. Pregnant people can receive the abortion pills by post and do the abortion at home so they don't have to go for a physical visit to a clinic. It gives individuals control over their own bodies and lives.
The importance of telemedical abortions during COVID-19 was recognised and immediately implemented by the UK, France, Canada, Ireland and, later, some US States. Abortion pills were indeed liberating!
Also Time Magazine acknowledged the importance of telemedical abortion by putting Rebecca Gomperts on the list of 100 most influential people.
Unfortunately, the Dutch government did not follow suit and even the court did not acknowledge the right to access abortion care of a single mother who could not travel 2 hours to a clinic during the lockdown in the Netherlands.
In other countries that did not take any measures, COVID-19 created more and sometimes insurmountable obstacles to abortion services: Many people lost their job and could not afford abortions if they were not covered or partially covered by health insurance. Travel restrictions made it impossible to travel to clinics that were sometimes hours away or required flying to another country. Overburdened healthcare systems, childcare issues as all schools were closed, mandatory quarantine for those with COVID-19 symptoms, and being locked in situations of domestic violence also all posed massive hurdles for those needing abortion services.
One of the emails: "I can’t access an abortion as corona virus is stopping me from travelling. I live with my grandparents so it is too dangerous to travel to get an abortion and this is why I need your help. I am also having trouble with money as I have no income coming in since school ended. I just really need your help to cover the costs please. I really hope you can help me out cause I am very stuck and stressed about the situation. I hope you can help me with the payment also."
During 2020, we shared and published research about the Women on Web service that made the obstacles to access abortion care due to Covid or for other reasons visible in Brasil, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Malta and the US.
Despite the fact that some countries still censor our websites; our social media accounts have been disabled frequently and our Polish-language accounts remain blocked, we reached many women in need of a safe abortion and the Women on Web helpdesk answered 140000 emails in 26 languages.
In response, to the decision of the Polish Government to ban abortions for fetal indications, Women on Web started providing abortion pills for free for severe fetal malformations.
And our work in 2021?
Liberate the Abortion Pill!
This year Women on Web will add even more languages to our helpdesk so we can respond to more help requests. We will continue our work in revealing and documenting barriers to abortion care around the world through research particularly the impacts of COVID-19. We will continue to fight the online censorship that Women on Web, Women on Waves and other pro-rights activists are facing.
Of course Women on Web will also continue to facilitate access to safe abortions including to regions and people otherwise difficult to reach, such as the Middle-East. Women on Waves is now also able to help undocumented people in the Netherlands, as we just received a clinic license for the office in the Netherlands.
And more exiting developments to be shared soon!
"I will forever be grateful for the help that was provided to me by women on web. Due to the legalities and redeployment of staff during covid there was no access to safe abortion for me in my area and if it weren’t for women on web I would have been stuck in a situation that would have had a huge impact on me and my children. Thank you so much to all involved the work that you do to help women in this situation is invaluable you really are angels."
Thank you so much for your ongoing support for our work.