We know everyone is concerned and stressed about the COVID-19 pandemic: How to stay safe and how to get the medical care you need right now! Choices has been a safe haven for women and their families for almost 50 years – and we will continue to be here for you during this time.We are CHOICES STRONG! (Founder/President Merle Hoffman wrote about this in a recent message which you can access here.)
Choices is Open
As an essential healthcare provider, Choices remains open during the pandemic. We are seeing gynecological patients for serious, symptomatic vaginal problems, providing abortion services and post-abortion follow-up visits. Our prenatal program is open for existing and new patients. There are no age restrictions, and all our services are completely confidential. Immigrants are welcome.
Despite Federal and State politicians declaring that abortion clinics do not provide essential care, Choices bases itself on reality not political rhetoric. The truth is, that abortion is the only constitutional right that requires a third party (licensed medical provider) to access it. Abortion is an essential procedure, and we will continue to meet women’s reproductive health needs.
Delivering the same high-quality care to patients that they would receive during an “in-clinic visit” and ensuring less barriers to care, especially in this Pandemic where staying at home is so critical to saving lives, Choices has expanded our Televisits. From counseling with licensed social workers to a range of essential GYN visits including follow-ups, lab results, prenatal care, birth control, to general options counseling we are insuring that our patients can privately, safely, and securely access our health professionals. Please call 718-786-5000 to schedule your Televisit today.
ABORTION SERVICES ARE ESSENTIAL
Abortion has always been an essential medical procedure and an essential part of reproductive health. When women or girls of any age have an unwanted pregnancy and decide to end it by abortion, they need the procedure as soon as possible. Delaying it increases risk and cost. Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures there is, but later procedures are more difficult for the doctor and patient and can carry more risk. Choices offers medical abortion to 10 weeks (sometimes known as the “abortion pill”) and surgical abortion to 24 weeks. Post-abortion follow-up visits are an integral and essential part of this care.
“Providing women across the globe with access to safe and legal abortion services is essential to realizing and protecting their fundamental human rights…”
-World Health Organization (WHO), 2012
Prenatal care is essential to having a healthy pregnancy and delivery – the earlier in your pregnancy the better. Prenatal care can help in managing chronic conditions and can catch warning signs of problems before they become serious and endanger your and your baby’s health. We are urging our patients to make and keep appointments, practicing social distancing in getting here. If you are having trouble finding appropriate transportation, please call and we will arrange a safe way for you to get to Choices.
Good News for Pregnant Patients
Because of the COVID19 epidemic, some NYC hospitals had refused to allow patients in labor to have support persons with them in the delivery room. But now the New York State Department of Health (DOH) is requiring hospitals to allow one support person in labor and delivery rooms if the patient desires. The DOH also says that support persons accompanying labor and delivery “must be asymptomatic for COVID19 and must not be a suspect or recently confirmed case.”
Anti-Abortion Attacks Intensify During the Pandemic
COVID-19 has forced big changes in people’s lives, but anti-abortion attacks continue unabated from all levels. Anti-abortion groups have asked Trump’s HHS to use the COVID-19 crisis to stop abortions, and the government is trying to do just that. [Link here ]. The Federal Stimulus Bill allows officials to deny loans to organizations and health centers that provide abortion care. This is outrageous.
In addition, some state governors are using the COVID19 crisis as the reason to try to ban abortions and force women to remain pregnant, claiming abortions are “elective procedures” and therefore “nonessential” and not medically necessary.
Governors of Kentucky, Texas, Ohio and Louisiana are leading this charge, with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton claiming that closing abortion clinics would help the state prepare for an influx of COVID-19 patients. He made an insulting and ridiculous claim that “abortion providers are fighting against the health of Texans and withholding desperately needed supplies and personal protective equipment in favor of a procedure that they refer to as a ‘choice’.” Texas providers immediately filed a lawsuit against top state officials challenging the ban.
The director of a Dallas-based reproductive rights group, pointed out that banning abortions, even temporarily, poses a higher risk to some vulnerable communities, in particular, low-income women of color.
Protestors at Choices
New York State has none of the restrictions on abortion that harm women elsewhere in the country, but every Saturday anti-abortion protesters appear outside and try to harass patients coming for appointments. The COVID-19 virus hasn’t stopped them from planting themselves on the sidewalk leading to our entrance, holding big posters and spewing their vicious words. They have violated the 6-foot social distance regulation, and they try to stick their heads into cars pulling up to drop off patients. The photos here were taken March 21, and the protesters appeared again on March 28. Thanks to the presence of Choices security and staff outside, patients are still able to get inside safely. We are also trying to work with police and local officials to prevent the protesters from endangering patients and staff.
Taking Care of Yourself During the Pandemic
These stressful situations can also spark incidents of intimate partner violence. Choices’ Counseling Department suggests you contact the following for assistance and for mental health needs. The physical offices may be closed, but help is available by phone. For information and phone numbers:
- Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence
- In the evenings and weekends, Call NYC’s 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline (800621-4673); or visit the NYC HOPE Resource Directory online at www.nyc.gov/NYCHOPE
- For help with stress and anxiety please call NYC Well, 888-692-9355 or text “WELL” to 65173
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline for survivors has a special page, Staying Safe During COVID-19
- For emergencies, call 911
Choices urges you to learn and follow the directives of reliable agencies and organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the New York State Department of Health.
Choices’ Administrator and Director of Counseling Esther Priegue has this to say:
During moments of pandemics such as COVID-19, one may be experiencing worries about your own health, risk of exposure, family possibly getting ill, finances, job security, keeping children occupied, managing virtual education for their children at home and participating in self quarantine. At this moment in time, it is important to check in with your own mental health needs. And of course, you may always call our Choices tele-counselors at 718-786-5000.
You can cope by finding creative ways to manage stress and anxiety by interacting with friends, families, colleagues and community through phone calls, social media, chat, exercising, taking walks while keeping social distancing, etc. When one verbalizes feelings during this time, you may find some relief that others are feeling the same as you. Keeping regular routines by practicing social distancing is helpful.
Although we may find ourselves in the epicenter of the pandemic, we as New Yorkers are resilient. We are strong, and we will get thru this. Please be safe and stay healthy.