As America watched the final states turn red during Election Night, women across the country began encouraging each other to investigate long-term birth control options that could outlast a Donald Trump administration.
One woman tweeted yesterday, "I've been fucking around with getting an IUD for months. Trump won and I now have an 8:45 appointment tomorrow morning to get it."
President-elect Trump has promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) within the first 100 days of his presidency, thus limiting access to affordable birth control. The ACA requires that insurers cover the cost of birth control, which includes long acting, reversible contraception like intrauterine devices, or IUDs.
IUDs are commonly considered the most effective form of birth control, but access is integral. According to a study from the Guttmacher Institute, "Financial barriers to one of the most effective methods of contraception fell substantially following the ACA. If more women interested in this method can access it, this may contribute to a decline in unintended pregnancies in the United States."
By getting the T-shaped piece of plastic inserted into their uterus now, women can protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies for as long as three to 12 years.
According to data culled from Google, more people started searching the keywords "Donald Trump, birth control" and "IUDs" about 8 PM on Tuesday night. At 3 AM, which was around the same time Trump delivered his victory speech, the number of people searching "Donald Trump, birth control" peaked.
On Wednesday, as the disbelief of Hillary Clinton's loss began to sink in, more people began Googling "birth control." By 7 PM, "Donald Trump, birth control" was trending in the top three search terms, and "IUDs" peaked at 100 percent, with most of those inquiries coming from the US. At 10 PM last night, search interest in those keywords had surged by 100 percent.
So far this morning, data suggests people are still interested in understanding how birth control will be impacted in this new political climate.
But it's still too early to tell if there's been more requests for IUDs because of Trump's election, said Raegan McDonald-Mosley, the chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement. Planned Parenthood is one source for women turn to if interested in getting an IUD.
Sarah Christopherson is the policy advocacy director at the National Women's Health Network. She says with the changes in the White House and Congress, women should be "very, very worried" about birth control in the future. In addition to threatening the Affordable Care Act, funding for Title X, the federal grant program that offers family planning and health services to low-income and uninsured individuals, could also be jeopardized, she says.
"We know that the House Republicans have zeroed out Title X funding altogether in their past budgets," Christopherson tells Broadly. "They've never been successful because President Obama stops them. But with no one to stop them, there's every reason to believe that not only will the ACA be at risk for repeal but that all of the other ways that women have been able to access affordable reproductive care, through Title X, through going to Planned Parenthood, [will be at risk as well]."
I have this hope that if there's enough public pressure and there's enough highlighting of what this means, that we can stop the worst of it from happening.
If Trump and Republicans get their way and cut off all federal funding to Planned Parenthood, women on Medicaid will no longer be able to turn to the organization for health services, she says.
While getting an IUD does have the appeal of lasting throughout the duration of Trump's presidency, the downside is that it's not for everyone. "For some women, it's going to be a really great option, and for others, they might find themselves stuck with something they don't want or causes side effects they can't live with," Christopherson says. "Then they're out of pocket if they have to go get it removed and don't have insurance."
Christopherson says women should go talk to a health provider now to discuss their reproductive health goals and options.
If those who don't have insurance, there are other programs out there for assistance. The ARCH Patient Assistance Program, for example, provides IUDs to women who don't have public or private coverage and meet the program's financial criteria.
Women who are worried about their health care options should reach out to their elected officials, Christopherson says. "They should still make their voices heard about what these steps will actually mean in their lives. Because I have this hope that if there's enough public pressure and there's enough highlighting of what this means, that we can stop the worst of it from happening."