Stop Using COVID-19 to Suppress My Reproductive Rights

author/source: Ashley Lynn Priore

Photo by nadine shaabanaEven during a world pandemic, conservative lawmakers are fighting to limit access to abortion. Planned Parenthood and several abortion centers across the United States are battling abortion bans because states like Texas and Ohio do not see access to safe abortion treatments as essential medical procedures.

The New York Times recently did a story on what it is like to get an abortion in Texas. Do you want to know what it is like? Driving miles outside of your state to find a center that provides you with your fundamental rights. Having to explain yourself to lawmakers about why you don’t want another baby. Being forced to choose between mental wellbeing and financial instability.

Are the abortion centers closing just because of COVID-19 health concerns? Absolutely not. Pregnancy crisis centers remain open in anti-abortion states, despite non-essential businesses being forced to close. Why? According to National Institute of Family and Life Advocates President Thomas Glessner, “abortion is deadlier than coronvirus.”

Mr. Glessner’s comments not only provide a snapshot into what extreme right conservatives will say to scare people about abortion (and paint it in such a dark light that it is worse than a national pandemic), but it also shows that COVID-19 is being used to further the agendas of men making decisions about women’s bodies that they shouldn’t be making.

Photo by Lucia Abortion is not illegal thanks to Roe v. Wade (despite Alabama’s continued push to make it illegal). However, our right over our own bodies, especially during a time like this, means absolutely nothing if we are being forced to maintain pregnancies. The United States should be past the part of our history where we force women to do things we do not want to do. This is sexism at its finest: Saying women have access to something when we truly don’t.

We shouldn’t have to write articles about how to get an abortion during COVID-19. Supporting the mental health and physical well-being of women is a medical essential. Pregnancy crisis centers, on the other hand, that do not provide any medical treatment and more often than not are staffed with non-medical professionals, are not essential. These centers are public health risks, not essential as Mr. Glessner claims.

The argument that abortion kills people is not a valid one. Women do not want a lecture about the morals of our decision-making - we just want to make the decision ourselves. By closing abortion centers, the decision to have an abortion is no longer ours. It is in the government’s hands, and lawmakers, specifically men, who should not be making these decisions. You want to support health care? You want women to have safe treatment for medical conditions? Good - provide the access. Planned Parenthood says it best: abortion is health care.


Ashley-Lynn-PrioreAshley Lynn Priore is a Pittsburgh native and a current undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in English and Philosophy & Politics with a minor in Economics. An award-winning and nationally ranked player under the United States Chess Federation, Ashley is a competitive chess player, politics enthusiast, writer and poet, social entrepreneur, and public service scholar. 

Ashley is the founder and President and CEO of The Queen’s Gambit Chess Institute. Founded in 2014, the Pittsburgh based non-profit organization is dedicated to teaching chess to the community, ensuring every child has the necessary tools and opportunities to learn the game of chess through a 21st-century approach to education. The non-profit uses strategy and critical thinking to impact Pittsburgh through various educational, social, political, and economic initiatives and regional partnerships. 

A chess educator, social advocate, and leader around the city, Ashley also leads Queen's Gambit, a social enterprise. Founded on the belief that chess is a catalyst for change, Queen’s Gambit encourages communities and individuals to use strategy tools to navigate the future.  With long-lasting partnerships, they are a network of changemakers in the larger movement towards a critical thinking world.  An innovative speaker who appeared on the TEDx stage in 2018, she started playing competitive chess at the age of four and began teaching at eight years old.  Ashley currently serves on several nonprofit boards, focusing on youth leadership and providing everyone under the age of 25 with the platform to succeed. Some board memberships include the Pittsburgh Chess Club (where she serves as Vice President), Community Human Services, Pittsburgh Cares, and City of Bridges High School (where she serves as Vice-Chairperson). She also serves on several local and national advisory boards and committees.   

In 2019, Ashley entered politics and was a candidate for the Pittsburgh Board of Education, District 4. A catalyst for change who started her own business at the early age of 14 years old, Ashley seeks to empower all to use their passions for good.