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The consequences of COVID-19 have made it clear that my right to decide my future is still in jeopardy as long as my ability to access reproductive health care is dependent on my finances and zip code.

I lost my insurance during the pandemic, so my options were limited after I tried unsuccessfully to treat the symptoms of a vaginal infection with over-the-counter medicine. When I tried to book an appointment with Planned Parenthood, a clinic I knew would work with my budget, I was discouraged after finding out that they didn’t have an opening for three weeks. The two centers in my area temporarily shut down due to the financial impact of COVID-19. Now other clinics that provide affordable reproductive health care are forced to carry a heavier load. I tried to wait due to financial strain until I saw signs that my health was at risk and I rushed to a more expensive urgent care. I’ve spent $500 on two urgent care visits and medication, which is an unexpected expense that would cripple low-income people.

If any other medical emergencies come up, I will be forced to choose between waiting almost a month to discuss my options with a health-care provider and risking my health or paying a costly bill that I cannot afford. Reproductive health needs are time sensitive, so this delay in accessing care is unacceptable. We need our legislators to champion bills that increase access to reproductive health care services if we want to live in a state where every person can choose what happens to their body.

Paulina Castle

Englewood

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