Access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health is a basic human right. However, based on the Global Fund for Women “the global status of women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights is disturbing: 214 million women worldwide want, but lack access to, contraception; more than 800 women die daily from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth; and same-sex relationships between consenting adults are still illegal in 76 countries globally.”
I am proud to be a woman and doctor living in New York City in 2020 where the grim statistics noted here are far from our reality. However, even in the city that never sleeps our access to our very basic reproductive health: including annual well woman exams, pap smears, gyn visits, egg freezing, fertility treatments and IVF came to a sudden halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic. New Yorkers and women across the country were mandated by city and state officials to lockdowns that forbid people from leaving their homes unless it was for something essential or a medical emergency. And obviously with our own safety and the health of our fellow citizens in mind we abided and stayed home… but to what cost?
Please do not get me wrong- as an OB/GYN I totally agree that postponing a well women check-up and pap smear is not an emergency and delaying it by weeks or even months will not harm anyone. But my heart goes out to the silent women dealing with pelvic pain, contraception issues, unwanted pregnancies, and the 1 out of 8 couples who deal with infertility who are struggling to conceive. To these women every day matters and a delay of weeks or months can be life changing.
With that said, I applaud Governor Coumo for declaring infertility essential and by doing so told women in New York your health and body matters. His stance while directed to infertility clinics extends significantly beyond this group and sends a message to all women’s reproductive health providers that your work to help women is valued and needed, that our government appreciates the importance of timely diagnosis and treatment of women’s health issues.
At Kindbody, we remained open through the pandemic and from day one provided virtual appointments and urgent gyn visits – we are eager to open our doors even wider now and thrilled to be resuming our fertility treatments. Because we understand that for women with severe diminished ovarian reserve or recurrent miscarriages time matters and we are honored to be your partner in this journey. We do all this with extreme caution and the safety of our patients and providers remains at the forefront of our mission.
I will end with a quote from a famous women’s right activist, Faye Wattleon : “Reproductive freedom is critical to a whole range of issues. If we can’t take charge of this most personal aspect of our lives, we can’t take care of anything. It should not be seen as a privilege or as a benefit, but a fundamental human right.”