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Dr. Gillian Dean: “People should not be forced to make critical health care decisions based on fear."

New York, NY — Following the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there is mounting concern about how her vacant seat will affect people’s access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including birth control and abortion, in the months and years ahead.

In late 2016, Planned Parenthood saw an unprecedented surge in questions about access to health care and birth control, both online and in health centers, including a more than 900% increase in appointments for IUDs. Patient after patient shared concerns about losing their birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act’s birth control rule or their access to health care.

Planned Parenthood providers are already seeing patients make decisions, such as choosing to end pregnancies they otherwise would have continued and delaying their plans to expand their families, due to burdens imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. With 17 cases concerning abortion access one step away from the Supreme Court, and other federal court cases threatening health care access more broadly, more people may be forced to make medical and family planning decisions based on their fears of the unknown.

Statement from Dr. Gillian Dean, Senior Director of Medical Services, Planned Parenthood Federation of America: 

“With the recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — a staunch champion of reproductive health care and rights on the Supreme Court — and dozens of cases about reproductive health in the federal courts right now, many people have concerns about the threat to accessing essential sexual and reproductive health services, such as birth control and abortion.

“While it's too soon to tell what impact Justice Ginsburg’s passing will have on cases before the Supreme Court or what impact those cases will in turn have on people’s family planning decisions, one thing is for certain: People should not be forced to make critical health care decisions based on fear. Politics should not be a factor people must consider when deciding to start using birth control, choosing a method, or switching methods. This is true for people who depend on birth control to prevent unintended pregnancy or manage health conditions, and for those who otherwise would not have access to health care without the ACA.

“It is unconscionable that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our political climate determines people’s access to health care from one day to the next. Patients have already been forced to make tough decisions about their reproductive health during the pandemic.  Regardless of who is on the bench or in office, everyone should be able to access the critical, essential care they need, including contraception and abortion. It has always been Planned Parenthood’s mission to make sexual and reproductive health care accessible to as many people as possible — and we will continue to work toward that mission, no matter what.”

Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) are appealing options to people concerned about losing their access to health care in uncertain times, because once inserted, they work for years:

  • IUDs are more than 99% effective and work to prevent pregnancy for up to three to 12 years, depending on the type. Because it’s a reversible method, IUD users get extremely effective pregnancy prevention, and their ability to get pregnant returns quickly once the IUD is removed. However, cost is a major barrier for people without health insurance coverage for birth control.  Out-of-pocket costs for IUDs can range from $500 to $1,000.
  • Implants are also more than 99% effective and can prevent pregnancy for up to 5 years. People can get pregnant right away after the implant is removed. The cost of the implant can range from $0 to $1,300 without access to insurance, Medicaid, and other government programs.

IUDs and implants are safe and highly effective birth control options for many people who can become pregnant and desire long-term, highly effective and safe pregnancy prevention, and who may also want to preserve their fertility. IUDs and implants now represent the third most commonly used category of reversible contraceptives in the United States, after the pill and condom.  

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Planned Parenthood is the nation's leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation's largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.