Clinics Struggle to Meet Demand for Long-Term Birth Control


Driven by fears that a Trump presidency will make it harder to access contraceptive options, women across the country have begun flocking to reproductive health centers to get birth control before President Obama’s term ends. Long-acting options such as IUDs have seen a particularly significant spike in demand since last month’s election. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to cover birth control without charging copays. If Donald Trump follows through on his promise to repeal Obama’s signature healthcare bill, however, free birth control could become a thing of the past in 2017.

Now, with demand for long-acting contraception soaring, budgetary restrictions are making it hard for some clinics to meet the needs of their patients. Although the Planned Parenthood Federation of American has received a record number of donations and volunteer offers in the weeks following the election, other reproductive health organizations have not been so lucky.

The Wyoming Health Council, for example, which manages 15 publicly-funded family planning centers throughout the state, hadn’t seen any donations as of November 23. Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood operates just one clinic in Wyoming. This leaves a huge burden on smaller state-run organizations like the Wyoming Health Council.

In other states where budgets are already tight, the surge in demand has been especially difficult to keep up with. While clinics in these states typically keep a few IUDs in stock at any given time, they simply can’t afford to keep much more than that on hand for long periods of time. A brief spike in demand might be manageable with budget reallocations, but if the trend continues it could spell bigger problems for family planning clinics in the coming months and years.

“Our demand for IUDs has about doubled, but we don’t know if that’s a short term spike or not,” said Kate Brogan, vice president of public affairs for Maine Family Planning in an interview with NPR. “I think it would take a more consistent increase for it to begin to be an issue.”

For now, clinics are coping successfully with the increased demand for contraceptives. But if the Affordable Care Act is repealed or Title X funding is cut in 2017, budgetary restrictions at regional family planning clinics could become a far more pressing issue.

“If we lost Title X funding—oh, gosh, given the history of Title X battles in congress, I think that’s a real question,” said Brogan in her interview. “Right now we have over 50 clinics. There’s no way we’d be able to maintain that without Title X.”

With public funding for family planning clinics in jeopardy, it’s more important than ever for private citizens to support their regional healthcare organizations with donations and volunteer efforts. Every little bit helps. Together, we can protect the future of women’s healthcare in America.

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