“As a physician and advocate,

I understand the importance of access to a wide range of affordable contraception options. Birth control is essential for the health and well-being of women and their families.”

Margaret Baylson, MD

Contraception

Physicians for Reproductive Health believes that access to contraception is of vital importance to women’s health because it allows them to determine the timing and spacing of pregnancies. In the medical world, we have studied birth control methods and their effects for decades. We know, based on enormous amounts of scientific evidence, that contraception is crucial to women’s well-being, their children’s health, and their ability to educate themselves, achieve career goals, care for and support their families, and otherwise participate in society. As physicians, we see every day how it improves our patients’ lives.

The contraceptives that are most reliable, however, can be too expensive for many women to afford out of pocket. Because we believe every woman should be able to choose from a broad array FDA-approved contraceptives to find the one that meets her health needs, we advocated in support of the Affordable Care Act. We were thrilled when the Supreme Court upheld health care reform in June 2012.

Federal rules are now in effect that require private insurance plans to cover the full cost of preventive health services for women, including contraceptives, without co-pays or any other extra charges. Some institutions–both faith-based and private, secular businesses–are objecting to new federal rules requiring their employees’ health insurance policies to cover contraception. Allowing employers to refuse to offer this benefit is harmful to women and their families, and we believe all women deserve affordable birth control.

Read more about what we’re doing to advocate for better access to contraception for all women.

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Highly Effective and Low-Maintenance: Spreading LARC Awareness

Dr. Pratima GuptaLARC Awareness Week is November 15-21. Our Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow Dr. Pratima Gupta discusses why long-acting reversible contraceptives are a great option.

After being plagued by with a bad reputation and lack of awareness, long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) are finally gaining much-deserved momentum. The Guttmacher Institute recently reported that U.S. women are increasingly turning to highly effective LARC methods—particularly intrauterine devices (IUDs). According to the report, the IUD and the contraceptive implant use increased from about 9% in 2009 to nearly 12% in 2012.

As a physician, I can personally vouch for the fact that IUDs are the most popular method of birth control used by family planning practitioners — we know firsthand about their safety profile and efficacy. With failure rates of less than 1% per year, LARCs are the most effective reversible methods available.

Most women are excellent IUD candidates, regardless of age or whether they’ve had children or not. And depending on what IUD option they choose, they don’t need to worry about birth control for three, five, or 10 years.

Despite all of this great news, those of us who work in reproductive health and family planning still have to counter the misinformation, especially about IUDs, on a regular basis. Sometimes a patient will tell me that she’s interested in getting an IUD but that a friend told her that they were dangerous, or that she heard only women who have had kids can use them. I always explain what I know to be true: IUDs are safe and effective and appropriate for women of all ages.

The implant (Nexplanon®) is a popular method with my younger patients, which isn’t a surprise. In one large contraceptive study, over 40% of those surveyed under 18 opted for the implant. Smaller than a matchstick, it is discreet and hidden under the skin of the inner arm. It is an easy two-minute insertion that feels like getting a shot and doesn’t require a pelvic exam. It has the lowest failure rate of any form of contraception — 0.05% — and works for three years.

LARCs are fantastic—they’re highly effective and low-maintenance. But I always tell my patients that the best birth control method for them is the one that they choose for themselves—and the one they feel most comfortable using. That’s why we discuss all the options available, the full range of contraceptive methods, including LARC methods.

If you are a health care practitioner looking to learn more about LARC, here are some great resources:

 

Supreme Court Will Hear Challenges to ACA Contraception Coverage

Dr. Nancy StanwoodThe Affordable Care Act has proven critical in improving women’s health, and in particular the provision that requires insurance companies cover birth control without a copay. Responding to the news that the Supreme Court of the United States would grant the challenges to the Affordable Care Act, in which plaintiffs are seeking an exemption from covering contraception for employees as mandated, our board chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood responded:

“The Affordable Care Act did the right thing for public health and women’s health by ensuring that everyone who needs birth control can get the method that is right for them, without co-pays. If the plaintiffs succeed in their case, countless people will lose this benefit and face costly barriers to accessing affordable contraception….One person’s beliefs should not dictate the health care that another receives.”

Read her entire statement here

Doctors React to Supreme Court Accepting Challenge to Contraceptive Coverage

Concerned that ruling in favor of plaintiffs could deal devastating blow to women’s access to contraception

New York, NY— Today the Supreme Court of the United States announced that it would grant all seven of the challenges to the Affordable Care Act, in which plaintiffs are seeking an exemption from covering contraception for employees as mandated.

In response, Physicians for Reproductive Health board chair Nancy L. Stanwood, MD, MPH said:

“The Affordable Care Act did the right thing for public health and women’s health by ensuring that everyone who needs birth control can get the method that is right for them, without co-pays. If the plaintiffs succeed in their case, countless people will lose this benefit and face costly barriers to accessing affordable contraception. Birth control is a critical component of preventive care.

“And affordability is key to ensuring that people are able to use it and have control over their reproductive lives. We know that when co-pays are removed, women are able to choose a method based on their medical needs, and not on cost alone. Removing co-pays for all methods assures that patients can choose whatever method they need, including long-acting reversible methods, such as the IUD or the implant, that are highly effective but often come with high upfront costs.

“The plaintiffs are seeking to privilege their religious beliefs over the beliefs and health of others. In a modern democracy, this is simply unacceptable. One person’s beliefs should not dictate the health care that another receives. We hope the court uses good sense and finds in favor of good health and good medicine for all.”  

PHYSICIANS AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT

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Did Your Senators Stand with Planned Parenthood?

We Stand With Abortion Care ProvidersAs you know, on Monday the Senate blocked an effort to bar Planned Parenthood’s participation in federal health programs like Medicaid. Had the vote been successful, it would have paved the way to eliminating affordable health care for the 2.7 million people who rely on Planned Parenthood annually.

The final vote count was 53-46, seven short of the 60 votes that the bill’s supporters needed. How did your Senators vote? We’ve created a page that will allow you to find out if your senators did indeed stand with Planned Parenthood and send them personalized messages. Please take a moment to let your elected officials know what you think!