The COVID-19 pandemic has strained health systems and exacerbated system deficiencies and subpopulation vulnerabilities, thus “exposing the damaging impact of inequities, in every society.” It has also dramatically altered maternal newborn health (MNH) care delivery; some of the efforts to curb the virus violate the rights of women, their newborns, and families.

In times of crisis, it is a common state practice to restrict some rights, on the grounds they are secondary to security, safety, or emergency resource management. However, maintaining the right to essential MNH services, ensuring quality, continuity, and respectful care, is critical to prevent death and disability. Early models estimate significant increases in mortality due to reduced MNH service availability resulting from COVID-19.