Since the start of the new administration (as in less, than a week ago), we’ve already seen swift action taken threatening the future of women’s health care and reproductive rights. With the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, it’s a frightening reality to face — over 20 million people could lose their health insurance.
For women and girls, it means losing basic services including mammograms, cancer screenings, STD testing, regular checkups and birth control — much of which has been generously provided by Planned Parenthood to over 2.5 million people each year. The ongoing threat to women’s health care has clearly brought women and girls together in coalition with one another, but this concern is not simply a trend.
Inside the gynecologist’s office, the fear of no longer having access to basic health care has manifested, and many women and girls have been seeking long-term contraception to protect themselves through a Trump presidency.
Women have outwardly expressed anxiety over the possible loss of their health insurance, creating a different dynamic within obstetrician and gynecologist offices according to Dr. Kelly Culwell, chief medical officer at WomanCare Global.
“The election has ignited conversations about women’s rights — particularly, women’s sexual health and access to affordable contraceptive options for all women,” she told SheKnows. “There’s been a surge in urgency in social media among women rushing to get long-term birth control, fueled by concerns that the Trump administration might end Obamacare provisions that require insurers to cover intrauterine devices and other contraception.”
Culwell, along with Dr. Elizabeth West, an OB-GYN at the Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, noted that there has been a significant increase in patients looking for long-acting contraceptives — IUDs in particular.
“Immediately after the election, there was a surge of patients coming into the office to discuss contraception and requesting IUD insertion,” West told SheKnows. “I think many of those patients had uncertainty about the future of reproductive health care coverage and wanted to ensure that their IUDs were placed before the change in administration.”
Although this harrowing presidency has placed urgency on women and girls to seek long-term contraception, Culwell encourages women to discuss the full range of contraceptive options available to them with their doctors. Utilizing the safe space within our doctor’s care, asking questions and opening the door to assess which birth control option may be right for oneself is more significant than ever before.
“Since the election, we have seen an unprecedented surge in support and questions about access to health care and birth control,” Planned Parenthood’s Southern New England President and CEO Judy Tabar told SheKnows. “There’s been a significant increase in appointments scheduled for birth control, with demand for IUDS increasing by more than 900 percent across the country. These spikes illustrate just how important the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit has been for women to access the birth control method of their choice.”
Another contributing factor is that IUDs have been increasing in popularity over the past several years already due to its contraceptive reliability, safer design and lack of complications following insertion, according to Dr. G. Thomas Ruiz, an OB-GYN at MemorialCare Medical Group in Fountain Valley, California. He added that both hormonal and nonhormonal IUDs are more effective in preventing unplanned pregnancies than tubal sterilization.
The value of the reproductive care provided by the Affordable Care Act and through Planned Parenthood is reflected by the furor that came in response to the ominous fate of repealing essential services for women. To minimize and eliminate these necessary services would be a disservice to millions of Americans and would further escalate the anxieties presented across our nation, leaving many without reliable and affordable options for managing one’s health.
Planned Parenthood plans to face this by continuing “to fight for their patients and the care they need,” Tabar said. “No one should have their basic health care taken away.”
West echoed the sentiment, noting that any major changes in women’s health care will not come into effect immediately at the beginning of the new presidential administration.
“Patients should feel confident that we can continue to provide them their best care and offer a breadth of contraception options throughout the next year,” she said.