“Communities and countries and ultimately the world are only as strong as the health of their women.” — Michelle Obama
If you didn’t already understand that the American president doesn’t care about women’s bodily autonomy from his infamous “grab her by the pussy” line, there are plenty of other signs of impending legislative doom for reproductive rights. Anti-choice judge Neil Gorsuch has been nominated to the Supreme Court, and over 300 bills restricting access to reproductive healthcare have been filed for the 2017 legislative session. Republicans in the legislature have been attempting to defund Planned Parenthood for years, and attacks on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid aren’t over yet. As I mentioned in my post about healthcare, Americans should prepare for coverage and services to be drastically reduced if not cut entirely. This means expediting whatever healthcare you can while it’s still available for free or at a reduced cost, as well as prioritizing preventative care. If you are uninsured, free clinics and Planned Parenthood are great resources. Reproductive healthcare is important for everyone, whether you have a uterus or not, and whether you have sex with someone with a uterus or not. To get involved in reproductive justice, you can donate or volunteer at clinics and abortion funds, volunteer as an abortion clinic escort, and contact your representatives about abortion laws in your state.
If you are under 26 years old and have not received the HPV vaccines yet, start the series now. This multi-shot series protect against strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer, and it’s important to get them, no matter your gender or the gender of your partner(s). Some counties have a grant for free HPV vaccines, and some providers can save you money by writing a prescription for you to buy the vials from the pharmacy and refrigerate them until a nurse can give you the injection.
Everyone with the financial means should stock up on emergency contraception for themselves, their partners, and their friends. If people lose health insurance coverage, they may lose access to their preferred method of birth control. Additionally, it is already difficult to get hospitals to dispense emergency contraception to survivors of sexual assault, and unfortunately this will probably not improve under the new administration. Plan B is an over-the-counter emergency contraception pill, and has a shelf life of 3-4 years. Ella is a prescription medication that is more effective for more days and for people with higher BMIs. Anyone can pick up Plan B at a drugstore or family planning clinic, but it usually costs up to 25% less on Amazon. You can also find a coupon here.
For people with a uterus considering birth control, an IUD is the best bet in case reproductive healthcare coverage is taken away. All healthcare plans are currently required to cover IUDs, if you are uninsured it is a one-time payment, and they last between 3-10 years, depending on the model. If you are uninsured and need birth control pills, Nurx delivers birth control (and PrEP) to certain states. If you are certain that you don’t want to bear children, consider getting Essure or tubal ligation if your insurance currently covers it. If you are pregnant you may qualify for Medicaid coverage, depending on your income. Also look into being prescribed a breast pump now while they are covered by insurance.
You can find your local abortion clinic here. If Medicaid does not cover abortion in your state, national abortion funds such as WRRAP, NAF, or the National Network of Abortion Funds offer financial assistance for abortion procedures as well as support in the form of lodging, transportation, childcare, financial assistance for Plan B, and Medicaid enrollment. Women on Waves provides contraceptives, information, training, workshops, and abortion services outside territorial waters in countries where abortion is illegal. They also have guides on abortion with pills in 20 languages, as well as low-literacy guides. Women on Web helps provide prescriptions for abortion pills.