The Local Reproductive Freedom Index is a biennial initiative that evaluates the reproductive health, rights, and justice policies of 50 U.S. cities and municipalities. Protecting Reproductive Freedom in Cities and Counties During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Local Reproductive Freedom Index Special Report documents the leadership and promising policies and practices of localities as they work to address the intersection of the pandemic and reproductive health, rights, and justice. It provides a roadmap for how localities can respond to the ongoing pandemic and its aftereffects in ways that center and advance reproductive freedom.

The Local Index Special Report highlights how municipalities responded  to the pandemic and its aftereffects while protecting and even advancing reproductive freedom.

Some of the highlights that cities and counties implemented in order to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 include the following:

  • Several cities sought to protect access to abortion clinics. Both Austin, TX and New York City allocated municipal funding to support abortion access. The Austin City Council reallocated $100 million from the Austin Police Department to community programs and policies, including an investment of $250,000 in practical support for abortion care—a $100,000 increase from the previous year. And the New York City Council renewed $250,000 in funding to the New York Abortion Access Fund.
  • Cities addressed young people’s access to care. The Genesee County Health Department in Michigan launched a new public awareness campaign encouraging young people to contact the health department for free and confidential family planning care. And In Florida many county courts have established remote procedures in response to the pandemic, including those for minors to access judicial bypass.
  • Columbus, OH, allocated funding to assist small minority-, and woman-owned local businesses impacted by COVID-19. 
  • Chicago passed an ordinance barring employers from firing or demoting an employee for staying home from work during the COVID-19 crisis, including staying home to care for an individual required to quarantine.
  • Philadelphia passed a paid sick leave bill requiring all employers—including small employers and those employing gig workers—to provide two weeks of paid sick leave. 
  • San Francisco allocated $10 million towards financial relief for undocumented and extremely low-income families, and it is currently piloting a universal basic income program that will provide 150 Black and Pacific Islander women $1,000 per month for the duration of their pregnancy and six months postpartum. 
  • Harris County, TX, invested $1 million of its own dollars alongside CARES Act funding to expand polling places, including a drive-through option, extend early voting, and process mail-in ballots more quickly to ensure voters could cast their ballots as safely as possible. 
  • Oakland, CA, passed a bill halting evictions and banning rent increases and late fees during the pandemic. 

As we face the continued effects of the pandemic, we must continue to take bold action at the local level. Elected leaders and communities should dare to reimagine cities as places that ensure that every person is able to live, work, and make decisions about their health and future with dignity and economic security. 

Download Protecting Reproductive Freedom in Cities and Counties During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Local Reproductive Freedom Index Special Report here

Download the 2019 Local Reproductive Freedom Index here.

Download the 2017 Local Reproductive Freedom Index here.