More women are asking Planned Parenthood workers about access to birth control and other health care since Donald Trump was elected president, according to the organization's chief medical officer.
Some women have taken to social media to discuss their concerns about the prospect of affordable access to women’s health care diminishing, with one long-lasting form of birth control called an IUD apparently attracting extra attention.
Trump has promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as one of his first acts in office, which could mean the end of free, FDA-approved contraception, including birth control pills, diaphragms, IUDs and emergency contraception like Plan B. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Friday, Trump said he would consider keeping at least two parts of President Barack Obama's signature health care law: a ban on insurers denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and a provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents' plans.
“Since the election, we have seen an uptick in questions about access to health care, birth control, and the Affordable Care Act,” said Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood. “While we truly hope that birth control methods will be available, accessible and affordable to all women under the Trump administration, we understand people’s real concerns about losing access to birth control, which is basic health care for women.”
There is a real possibility that health care cuts could come in the months after Trump is inaugurated in January, according to Cindy Pearson, the 19-year executive director of National Women's Health Network.
"It's not an irrational fear," Pearson said. "It's a fear that stems from people who will soon be in charge of Congress and the White House. We're very concerned since Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence have supported policies that would leave women in difficult situations."
NBC has reached out Trump's campaign for comment.
In an appearance on CNN's "State of the Nation" Sunday, House Speaker Paul Ryan would not answer a question about whether or not new health care legislation would include contraceptive coverage.
"I’m not going to get into all the nitty-gritty details of these things," Ryan told host Jake Tapper.
When Tapper pressed Ryan on the issue, the speaker responded: "I’m not going to get into ― I’m not going to get into hypotheticals about legislation that hasn’t even been drafted yet."
Trump has expressed different positions on women's health issues. He voiced disapproval for abortions during the campaign, even telling MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in March that women who get abortions should be “punished,” though he later backtracked on that statement. As for birth control, Trump said on "The Dr. Oz Show" in September that women shouldn't need a prescription to have access to it.
There is one safe and effective form of birth control that can last for four years, when another president may be elected, and some women appear to be discussing it.
The IUD, short for intrauterine device, is a T-shaped object inserted in a woman's uterus, where it can stay for years. It is 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancies — more than condoms, though IUDs do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Hormonal IUDs can last for about 3 to 6 years on average, while non-hormonal IUDs can last for up to 12 years, according to Planned Parenthood.
IUDs have offered a unique appeal for their longevity. Google searches for the term were four times their average on Wednesday night, after Trump was projected to win the presidency.
And women on Twitter have suggested that others get IUDs to last through a Trump presidency.
Kristyn Brandi, MD, OB/GYN and family planning specialist at Boston Medical Center and fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health called the Affordable Care Act a "game-changer" for helping women afford contraception.
“We don't really know what will happen with the new administration," she said. "I have heard of several women that are concerned about either access to IUDs or replacing existing ones. We have already seen patients who are seeking contraception based on concerns about what will happen to reproductive health and the Affordable Care Act."
The talk of IUDs may have been prompted by an article in The Daily Beast last week.
"What Donald Trump has promised to do—and what Mike Pence has actually done during his tenure as governor of Indiana—is to make birth control a lot more difficult for women to access,” Erin Gloria Ryan wrote, advocating that women consider getting an IUD in case Trump were elected.
IUDs are the third most popular form of contraception, according to Planned Parenthood, behind condoms and birth control pills, and they were already becoming more popular. The organization has seen a 91 percent increase in IUD users in the last five years alone.
McDonald-Mosley said Planned Parenthood expects that trend to continue in coming years.
Democrats have long supported Planned Parenthood, but Republicans have fought in recent years to restrict funding to the organization. Since Trump was elected president, the organization has made it clear that they are there to stay.
"We now face a very different future, and there is uncertainty ahead," their website read after the race was called. "But one thing is for sure: We will never back down, and Planned Parenthood will never stop providing the care patients need."
Pearson and the NWHN are preparing to "fight like crazy" to stop potential health care cuts, she said.
--Suzanne Ciechalski contributed to this story