The University of Maryland Health Center has seen an uptick in student requests for long-lasting birth control options in the month since Donald Trump was elected president.
During the 10 months prior to the election, this university scheduled an average of about one student a week for an intrauterine device or Nexplanon implant insertion, health center officials said.
Since Nov. 8, that has jumped to an average of four insertion appointments a week.
“A lot of young women are concerned about being able to have easy access to birth control,” said nurse Linda LeGrand. “Because of the election, they’re thinking about what options they’ll have available to them in a year or so.”
While Trump has not called for a ban on birth control, he has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which requires birth control coverage by most health insurance plans. Without coverage, an IUD or implant could cost a woman up to $1,000 out-of-pocket.
The spike in appointments at the university’s health center mirrors a national trend. Two days after the election, NPR reported that they reached out to more than a dozen Planned Parenthood divisions across the country, and each had said more women were calling with questions about IUDs.
The health center currently offers two forms of IUDs, which are small, T-shaped devices placed in a woman’s uterus. While more common forms of birth control, such as the pill or condoms, have failure rates between 9 and 18 percent, the hormonal IUD model has a failure rate of 0.2 percent and can last for five years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The copper-based IUD prevents pregnancy for up to 10 years — longer than two presidential terms — with a 0.8 percent failure rate.
As of this semester, the center also offers the Nexplanon implant, a thin rod placed in a woman’s arm that provides three years of pregnancy prevention with a 0.05 percent failure rate.
“By and large, students seem to be feeling really grateful and really pleased that they’re able to do this right here on campus,” said Jenna Beckwith, sexual health program coordinator. “Or relieved may be the better word.”
Trump has promised to appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court, and he will soon select a judge to fill the seat that’s been vacant since Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February. Should the liberal judges — 83-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg or 78-year-old Stephen Breyer — retire during Trump’s presidency, the court could be stacked 6-3 with conservatives.
During the third debate in mid-October, Trump stated that with two or three more pro-life judges on the bench, overturning Roe v. Wade “will happen. And that’ll happen automatically, in my opinion.”
Vice President-elect Mike Pence has also signed some of the country’s most restrictive abortion bills while serving as Indiana’s governor, including a law requiring burial or cremation for aborted fetuses.
After Trump won, many magazines that cater to female audiences published columns urging women to ask their doctors about these long-lasting birth control options.
“Scared of What Donald Trump’s Win Means For Reproductive Rights? Consider an IUD—Like, Right Now,” a Glamour headline from Nov. 9 read.
Health center Director David McBride said he has talked to female students who said they are worried their access to birth control will be taken away under a Trump administration. Though he doesn’t think that will be the case, McBride said regardless of a woman’s motivation for getting a long-acting reversible contraceptive, or LARC, they are “a great option for birth control.”
In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics released recommendations that stated LARCs should be the “first-line contraceptive choices for adolescents” due to their “efficacy, safety and ease of use.”
Beckwith, who meets with students who are unsure of which birth control method is right for them, said the women she counsels about LARCs don’t seem “coerced” by the impending Trump presidency, but rather “empowered.”
“I am not seeing students saying, ‘I really wouldn’t want to get a LARC, but because of this election, I feel pressured to,'” Beckwith said. “These are not students in crisis. It’s students that say, ‘I don’t know what my options will look like, so I want to do this now because I can and it’s awesome.'”
Once women decide they want to get either an IUD or implant, they have a consultation with one of the health center’s nurses. Before the election, a nurse would hold these sessions one-on-one.
“Now, we’ve moved to doing them in groups,” McBride said, “because the nurse wants to make time for everyone to get their questions answered, but she doesn’t have time to do them individually anymore given the increase.”
LeGrand runs these group sessions, and says the women talk in generalities instead of about their personal cases. The setting makes it easier for LeGrand, who said she has been getting between eight and 10 calls a day asking about LARCs.
“This way, I can get more people in and get the process started for them,” she said.
While being interviewed by a Diamondback reporter, LeGrand had to take another call. A student was calling to ask about birth control options.