URGE Statement: COVID-19 Poses a Threat and an Opportunity

How we respond during this pandemic will determine our future

Rachel Waters


(Washington, DC) — Statement by Kimberly Inez McGuire, Executive Director of URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity on threats to young people in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic takes hold, we risk losing critical ground to politicians who will stop at nothing to enact and uphold regressive policies that deny women and trans people our right to bodily autonomy, sever social and economic lifelines for low-income and other marginalized communities, detain migrants, and deprive people of color and young people of our right to vote.

“URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity is committed to staying vigilant through this pandemic. No matter what happens, we will continue to resist those who would take advantage of this crisis to rob us of our right to healthcare, bodily autonomy, economic security, and civic participation. Though we may not be able to unite in person, nothing will stop us from standing in solidarity and power with sex workers and service industry staff wondering how they will pay their bills, with LGBTQIA+ students left with no safe place to call home, with elderly loved ones and immunocompromised people afraid to get groceries, with pregnant people facing a lack of hospital beds or viable home-birth options, with people who are crowded into detention centers, and with folks unable to get the contraceptive and abortion care they need during periods of limited in-person healthcare services.

“Now, more than ever, we must fight for policies that enable us to survive this pandemic and thrive in its aftermath. We call on federal and state lawmakers to protect young people. We demand immediate and permanent financial relief for low-wage, gig, and hourly workers as well as for those mired in student debt. We also demand comprehensive healthcare for all —  including reproductive care that lifts restrictions on who can attend home births, decriminalizes self-managed abortions, and permits telemedicine for abortion and gender-affirming services. Finally, we demand freedom from detention for all who seek shelter within our nation’s borders. 

“As COVID-19 advances on the primary election calendar, it poses a threat — not just to young people — but to our democracy, itself. We must seize this opportunity to make democracy more accessible and ensure that any measures to protect public health do not intentionally or inadvertently hinder access to the electoral process for communities of color. If we are to pass and uphold legislation that protects the rights of young people in America, then every voice and vote must count. Only by mobilizing and enfranchising our communities can we address these problems at a systemic level and build a more just and liberated future for all.”