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The Impact of COVID-19 on Abortion Providers

Access to abortion care in the United States is restricted by numerous logistical and financial barriers, and the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified many challenges that independent abortion clinics face in providing their services. This study sought to document ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic affected independent abortion clinics and their staff and to identify the strategies clinics adopted to navigate the pandemic. Our research found that despite new and existing legal, logistical, and financial challenges, most clinics remained open and providing abortion care throughout the pandemic, and many adopted new clinical practices to ensure ongoing access to abortion services.

Key Findings

The pandemic caused significant disruptions in clinic workforce and clinic flow, delays in ability to provide abortion care and other reproductive health services, and led to increased expenses and reduced revenues for clinics.
More than half of independent abortion clinics surveyed reported that they had a clinician and/or staff member who was unable to work in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic also led to the temporary closure of multiple abortion clinics, particularly those located in the South and the Midwest.
Many clinics responded to challenges by adapting their clinical practices, including increased use of telemedicine practices for medication abortion, where possible.
Despite numerous, intersecting challenges, most clinics continued to provide abortion care throughout the pandemic.

Study Design

Data was collected via online surveys sent to independent abortion clinics throughout the United States. In April-May 2020, abortion clinic managers completed a one-time survey that include close‐ended questions about how the pandemic, resulting public health responses, and state-based designations of abortion as a nonessential service had affected their clinic, as well as open‐ended questions about COVID-19 impact on clinics’ ability to provide abortion services.


Despite numerous, intersecting challenges, including some state government responses that explicitly targeted abortion care, independent abortion clinics continued to provide abortion care to patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Though they remain resilient to such challenges, additional financial, logistical, and legal supports may be needed to ensure the sustainability of independent abortion clinics.

Additional Resources