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November 14, 2018 at 07:44AM
When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, many women and reproductive rights activists were worried about what his presidency would mean for family planning services like abortion and birth control.
Some started took matters into their own hands.
Melanie Roven, a 29-year-old brand director in New York City, began stockpiling Plan B, an over-the-counter emergency birth control, early in Trump’s campaign for president, she told MarketWatch.
“It was kind of a joke at first, but as he started forming policy ideas I realized I should actually do this,” she said.
‘This should be the end of a long and unnecessary culture war fight.’
—Mark Rienzi, president of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
Plan B has a shelf life of up to four years and retails for around $50. Roven now has five boxes sitting in her bathroom. (Another emergency birth control, Take Action, retails for $35.)
Roven also got an intrauterine device (IUD) shortly after Trump’s election, a form of birth control that lasts from three to six years, out of concern for her future access to reproductive care.
Prior to his election, Trump said women who seek abortions should receive “some form of punishment.” He also has derided Obama’s Affordable Care Act and promised to repeal it. (Republican lawmakers tried and failed to do so).
Now, as the Trump administration is finalizing new rules to let employers with a religious or moral objection to contraception opt out of providing health insurance that covers birth control, more women are once again stocking up on other options.
The new rules, set to take effect in 60 days, will roll back the Obama administration’s mandate forcing employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception, even if they had religious objections.
The new rules will affect between 6,400 and 127,000 women, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, though the National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group, put the estimate at 55 million. (HHS did not respond immediately to a request for comment.)
Religious groups have praised the Trump administration’s decision
Religious groups have praised the Trump administration’s decision. “This should be the end of a long and unnecessary culture war fight,” Mark Rienzi, president of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said.Emma Kaywin, a sexual health activist who has been collecting Plan B.
Emma Kaywin, a sexual health activist in Brooklyn, said she began collecting emergency birth control after Trump’s election.
She has started to accept Venmo and Paypal donations to fund a growing stockpile that she shares with others and keeps track of the funds in a spreadsheet. She has received more than $1,000 from 20 people allowing her to buy Plan B for dozens of people who could not otherwise afford it.
‘Plan B lasts for four years so hopefully it will outlive this administration.’
—Emma Kaywin, a sexual health activist in Brooklyn
Kaywin also sends it to contacts in Georgia, where finding a pharmacy fast can be a challenge. Only 5% of pharmacies in the U.S. are open 24 hours, and that rate can be lower in rural areas, according to a 2015 study from the National Institutes of Health.
Because emergency birth control is more effective when it’s taken quickly, it is best for people who are at risk of unplanned pregnancy have the drug on hand, in case they do not have access to a pharmacy after hours, Kaywin said.
“Most of the people I have been giving it to do not have health care, and $40 is prohibitively expensive,” she said. “For others, there are geographic barriers.”
Access to free birth control reduces abortion rates by 62% to 78%, a 2012 study from Washington University School of Medicine showed.
When women cannot afford birth control, the number of children born increases, a 2017 study by researchers at Purdue University found. Children born of these unplanned pregnancies are more likely to have health problems and grow up in poverty.
Kaywin said this is what she hopes to prevent. “People who want to help their community and are concerned about what this administration could do for reproductive rights should start stockpiling emergency birth control and letting their community know they have it,” she said.
“Plan B lasts for four years so hopefully it will outlive this administration,” she added.