With just 63 days until President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, students on campus are preparing for what his administration might do. Chief among these concerns is access to contraception.
College junior Esther Cohen said that when Trump closed in on an electoral victory, her first concern was whether women would be able to retain access to birth control.
During his campaign, Trump said he planned to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, which ensures access to women’s health and requires health insurers to cover all approved forms of birth control without charging cost-sharing fees such as a co-pay.
While Trump recently from this position, stating that he may retain portions of the ACA, the uncertainty surrounding the future of birth control has on social media for women to get an Intra-Uterine Device — a form of long-acting birth control — as soon as they can.
Cohen recently scheduled a medical consultation for long-acting birth control.
“Right now, what [Trump’s] administration is going to do is one huge question mark,” Cohen said. “This is one way I can be in control of my own life and protect myself from this administration in the ways I know they want to threaten me.”
College senior Trudel Pare had similar concerns, saying she has begun considering the option of an IUD “now more than ever before.”
“I am just about to graduate — it is a very exciting and new time for me. The ability to control whether I’m going to be pregnant or not is really important,” she said.
Melissa Weiler Gerber, the president and CEO of family planning nonprofit organization Access Matters said “signs are not very promising” for future access to women’s healthcare.
“It is important while coverage is still available, that women take stock and think about their plans for the next few years,” she said.
Apart from the ACA, reproductive health services in the United States are protected by Title X of the Public Health Service Act, a federal program which has been in place since 1970. It would thus take “two layers of undoing” to effectively limit women’s access to birth control, said Anne Teitelman, an associate professor of nursing who also teaches in the Perelman School of Medicine.
Gerber said, however, that even during President Barack Obama’s administration, there have been initiatives in Congress to defund Title X. With Trump as president and Republicans in control of both legislative chambers, those proposals may gain steam.
There are particular interest groups which are more vulnerable to potential changes in regulation. Women dependent on insurance or Medicaid for birth control are more likely than those who are not to face difficulty accessing contraceptives if ACA or Title X is altered, Teitelman said.
There are also some birth control options which are more at risk than others, experts said. Long-Acting Reversible Contraception methods such as IUDs and implants require a higher upfront cost, and are likely to be the first to go if regulations are changed. Gerber said that this is damaging since LARCs are twenty times more effective than other birth control options such as the pill.
“It is on all of us,” Teitelman said, “to work at all levels, locally, state-wide and nationally to ensure that all women have continued access to the full range of birth control and reproductive health services.”
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