As protesters burned a giant papier-mâché Trump head outside City Hall in Los Angeles and their East Coast counterparts torched an American flag in front of the Trump Tower in New York, America’s social media feeds lit up, too. Among those concerned were women who, worried about what the next four years could bode for reproductive health, pondered a lasting prophylactic measure. In the months before President-elect Donald Trump takes office, some advocates answered, consider long-term intrauterine devices or implanted contraceptive rods.
It was a concern echoed in headlines of Elle, Glamour, Jezebel, Vogue, New York magazine and others. Writer Sophia Benoit told the Intercept that some two dozen women took her up on a Twitter offer, posted just before midnight Nov. 8, to discuss intrauterine devices.
“I recommend the IUD right now especially because it’s long term, which with 20 million+ Americans potentially losing their health insurance and potentially right to an abortion, is important,” Benoit said.
An IUD procedure consists of a doctor implanting the small, T-shaped device in a woman’s uterus. The devices kill sperm before they can fertilize an egg, and the contraceptives do so with high rates of success. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that hormonal implants fail at a rate of just 0.2 percent when properly used, and copper implants have a 0.8 percent failure rate. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended IUDs to prevent teen pregnancies as “first line” contraceptives in 2014.
Effective for 10 years, ParaGard, a copper-based IUD, could outlast two terms of a Trump administration.
“It’s too early to tell if we’ll see an uptick in requests for IUDs as a result of the election,” Planned Parenthood’s Raegan McDonald-Mosley said in a statement to the Huffington Post. “While we truly hope that birth control methods will be available, accessible, and affordable to all women under the Trump administration, we understand people’s real concerns about losing access to birth control, which is basic health care for women.”
Trump has not called for a ban on birth control. But he has promised to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood, which offers a variety of birth control measures, including IUDs, in a pledge to antiabortion groups in the fall. Mark Harrington, director of antiabortion group Created Equal, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that the organization was calling on Trump to make good on his stance.
“We’re not going to allow, and we’re not going to fund, as long as you have the abortion going on at Planned Parenthood,” Trump said in March, just moments after complimenting the organization. “We understand that, and I’ve said it loud and clear.”
On Wednesday, Planned Parenthood issued a response to Trump’s election. “Health care should not be political,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said in a statement. “Every morning, Planned Parenthood health center staff across the country wake up and open their doors, as they have this morning, to care for anyone who needs them, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, income, or country of origin.”
Celebrities such as comedian Chelsea Handler came out to publicly defend women’s health organizations, too. “If you feel paralyzed today,” Handler tweeted, “Planned Parenthood and other groups are doing good work & need your support.”
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) November 9, 2016
The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals notes that patients who choose IUDs report some of the highest rates of satisfaction among women who use birth control. But IUDs are not perfect, with side effects that include possible irregular bleeding, and a chance of increased menstrual bleeding in the case of the copper IUD. They vary in duration and cost, as high as $1,000 in out-of-pocket expenses for those who are uninsured. The Affordable Care Act — which Trump vowed to repeal — requires coverage of some forms of birth control, including intrauterine devices, by nearly all health insurance plans.
Although Trump does not have a governing or voting record, his public statements in support of defunding Planned Parenthood are in line with what Vice President-elect Mike Pence supported during his time in Congress and tenure as governor of Indiana. Pence championed tight restrictions on abortion, including an Indiana law that declared “miscarried or aborted fetus must be interred or cremated.” In response, Indiana women created a group called “Periods for Pence” to inform the governor’s office whenever they were menstruating, on the chance their periods could potentially be miscarriages.
Trump said during the presidential campaign that if abortion were made illegal, women who got the procedure should be punished for doing so — then he backtracked almost immediately and said only the doctor or any other person performing the illegal procedure should be punished.
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