The Ongoing Battle for Reproductive Healthcare

Trumpcare is far from the beginning of the fight

The day after Donald Trump was elected president, a handful of my female friends asked me if they should get an IUD. They were worried that they might not have the option anymore once Trump took office.

An IUD, short for intrauterine device, is a nifty, t-shaped form of contraception that a doctor implants in a woman’s cervix. They’re 99.9 percent effective in preventing pregnancy for three to ten years, depending on the type of IUD.

I’m not a doctor, so it might seem weird that people would seek my advice on the subject. But I happen to have some expertise in the area. Yes, that area. I have an IUD myself. And it’s something I’ve been known to wax poetic about.

Photo credit: Alf Melin

But I care about a lot more hoo-has than just my own. I also work on the issue of human population growth. In my job I help people make the connection between unplanned pregnancies and threats to the environment — how our growing human population is crowding out wildlife and destroying habitats.

So when I got the question, I personally was all for it. I think an IUD is the best choice for most young women not ready to become moms or those not interested in having children. It’s a set it and forget it type of birth control that takes out the guess work, prevents human error and eliminates regular trips to the pharmacy.

And, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, IUDs are covered by insurance — you only have to pay a copay to get one implanted.

Post-election, my friends weren’t the only ones who began to worry if they would soon be unable to afford any form of birth control or worse they would lose access all together. Some felt legitimately concerned that Trump might grant their employer the ability to fire them for using birth control. They wondered if a long-acting form of contraception might help them navigate the next four years without the added stress of a pregnancy scare.

Already there have been numerous times during the Trump Era where these early fears felt like they could become reality. It often like we’re living in a dystopian society not far off from The Handmaid’s Tale.

My attempt at a Pink Out photo in support of Planned Parenthood, fighting one of many Congressional bills to take away my reproductive choice and healthcare.

Attacks on reproductive rights may have certainly gained a new fervor, but they aren’t unique to this administration. Right wing politicians have been chipping away at these rights for decades, often focusing on access to abortion.

As of the writing of this post, 45 anti-abortion bills have been proposed in Congress. That number more than triples when you factor in state-level policies. Couple these legislative attacks with efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and restrict access to birth control, and it’s easy to see why women are worried.

But many of these efforts are failing. Just yesterday Republicans abandoned the latest repeal-and-replace bill, Graham-Cassidy. Yesterday was also the day we recognized World Contraception Day, which seems an appropriate day to defeat a bill that would’ve allowed insurers to drop birth control coverage. So, despite everything we’re up against, I’m hopeful.

And I have to stay hopeful. Because access to contraception is a critical piece of the solution for many of the problems we’re experiencing now, including environmental ones. By simply giving all women access to the tools necessary to plan their pregnancies, we could take a bite out of our exploding human population. In doing so, we can also raise educational attainment and reduce income inequality. But, even more importantly, we can ensure everyone the basic human right of reproductive choice.

We haven’t seen the last of attempts to control women’s reproductive health — not from this administration and Congress, nor from those who will continue these efforts long after Trump is out of the White House. For many women an IUD is a great choice, in any political climate, and I highly recommend getting one. But this isn’t just any political climate, and we have to keep fighting to make sure that all women have the ability to make the choice that is right for them.

Leigh Moyer is the population organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity.