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Casualties of the World War II metaphor: women’s reproductive health fighting for narrative inclusion in COVID-19
  1. Yuki Bailey1,
  2. Megha Shankar2,3,
  3. Patrick Phillips4
  1. 1 Presence Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA
  2. 2 Primary Care and Outcomes Research (PCOR) and Center for Health Policy (CHP), Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
  3. 3 VA Palo Alto Health Care System Center for Innovation to Implementation (Ci2i), Menlo Park, CA, USA
  4. 4 Department of English, Stanford University School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford, CA, USA
  1. Correspondence to Yuki Bailey, Presence Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5119, USA; ybailey{at}


While the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, politicians and media outlets in the USA have compared the pandemic with World War II (WWII). Though women’s reproductive health has been affected by both COVID-19 and WWII, these specific health needs are not included in either event’s mainstream narrative. This article explores the pandemic’s war metaphor through the lens of women’s reproductive health, arguing for a reframing of the metaphor. Narrative-building determines how health needs are perceived and addressed. A modification of the WWII metaphor can ensure that the narrative formulating around COVID-19 is inclusive of the women’s reproductive health needs that are eminently present.

  • social anthropology
  • COVID-19
  • family planning
  • domestic violence
  • narrative medicine

This article is made freely available for personal use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

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  • Contributors YB initiated the article idea and draft. MS contributed research and editing. PP provided supervision and editing.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.