FORMERLY PHYSICIANS FOR REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE AND HEALTH

“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.

Related Posts:

LARC Awareness Week: For Teens, a Smart Birth Control Option

Kathleen Morrell MDLARC Awareness Week is November 16–22, 2014. Our Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow Dr. Kathleen Morrell discusses why long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) are a great option for teens.

Over the summer, two sisters who were heading off to college came to my clinic. These two bright, talented, and determined young women were determined to get as much as they could out of the next four years. And they’re counting on their athletic scholarships for their college careers. They don’t want unintended pregnancy to stand in the way of their dreams. This is why they both requested intrauterine devices (IUDs) that day.

I see a lot of young women in my office for the same reason. Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC), like IUDs and the implant, are a great option for teens who don’t want to worry about pregnancy. LARCs are the most effective reversible birth control methods we have, and as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology have noted, they are appropriate for teens.

IUDs are the most popular method of birth control used by family planning practitioners, which speaks to their safety and efficacy. 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 ten years.

Despite all this, there is still a great deal of misinformation out there about IUDs in particular. Sometimes a patient will say 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 also popular with my younger patients. In one large contraceptive study, over 40% of those under 18 chose 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.

I want all my teen patients to leave my office with the birth control method that is right for them, which is why we discuss all the options available. If you are a health care practitioner looking to learn more about LARC and teens, here are some great resources:

Spread the Word: Tell Congress to Restore Access to Birth Control

StanwoodBossHLOn June 30, the United States Supreme Court ignored the science of birth control and the medical needs of women when it sided with for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby. Five justices allowed these companies to deny essential health care that was promised in the Affordable Care Act.

In response to this, Senators Patty Murray and Mark Udall and Representatives Diana DeGette, Louise Slaughter, and Jerry Nadler introduced legislation that restores access to birth control for all women: The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act, known informally as the Not My Boss’ Business Act.

The Not My Boss’ Business Act will make it illegal for any company to deny their workers specific health benefits that are required to be covered under federal law, including birth control. This Act will make it clear that bosses cannot discriminate against their female employees, ensuring equal treatment under the law for the tens of thousands of workers whose coverage hangs in the balance.

Tell your members of Congress today to take action on the Not My Boss’ Business Act! And please spread the message on Facebook and Twitter by downloading and sharing this graphic featuring our board chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood. 

Supreme Court Decision Harms Women’s Health

Dangerous ruling would allow employers to deny health care coverage for contraceptives

New York, NY—In a truly disappointing ruling today, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in favor of a closely held corporation’s right to deny coverage for contraception to employees and their families based on an employer’s personal beliefs.

“Contraception is essential to women’s health and well-being, a critical component of preventive care, and integral to the health of families. We are deeply dismayed that the Supreme Court has placed the personal beliefs of the few ahead of the preventive health needs of the many,” said Physicians for Reproductive Health Board Chair Nancy L. Stanwood, MD, MPH.

Medical evidence and a patient’s needs—not the private beliefs of her employer—should guide the care a woman receives. This ruling could have a devastating effect on many women who may now lose access to the most effective methods of contraception. This includes methods like the intrauterine device (IUD), which has a higher upfront cost and could be rendered unaffordable for many women, especially hourly and low-wage workers. I think of women like my patient, whom I will call Jane, who was a mother of three working two jobs. She had wanted an IUD for some time, but before the Affordable Care Act, she had a $500 deductible that was simply out of her reach. She was so grateful to learn that her insurance now covered it. Having highly effective contraception has allowed Jane to focus on providing for her family. Now, that access can be denied—not for medical reasons but because a boss doesn’t believe in it.”

In January 2014, Physicians for Reproductive Health joined with major medical groups representing a wide spectrum of health care providers to file a brief in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. The brief argued that employers should not deny coverage for contraception and was referenced by Justice Ginsburg in her dissent at page 24. 

Physicians’ Stories: Insurance Coverage for Contraception Changes Women’s Lives

My patient Michelle, age 25 and newly married, has a severe congenital heart disease. Pregnancy would be life-threatening; Michelle has a 50% chance of dying if she carries a baby to term. She isn't willing to take that risk.

Condoms are effective only 85% of the time, and the pill isn't safe with her heart condition. Together we agreed that the IUD would be best, an extremely safe and effective method that costs $800. Michelle was able to afford it only because her job's insurance paid for it in full.