A new study was released earlier this month, from the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Internal Medicine, which found that intrauterine device (IUD) insertion rates rose steeply in the month following President Trump’s election, December 2016. CNN reports:
In 2015, the researchers found that the average adjusted daily insertion rate of long-acting reversible contraception during the 30 days before November 8 was 12.9 per 100,000 women, versus 13.7 per 100,000 in the 30 days after. Yet in 2016, the average daily rate during the 30 days before the November 8 presidential election was 13.4 per 100,000 women, versus 16.3 per 100,000 women during the 30 days after––a 21.6% increase, according to the paper.
IUDs are the “set it and forget it” form of birth control, to steal a famous infomercial tagline––they’re copper or plastic devices that are inserted into the uterus and provide lasting, highly effective protection against pregnancy for anywhere from three to 10 years. The cost is one-time, up front, and they’re safe to use while breastfeeding. It makes sense why many women would desire them, instead of birth control pills, which rely on the women not forgetting to take her daily dose.
But as practical as IUDs are, the Resistance’s “Trump is coming for our uteruses” bit is excessive and not really grounded in reality (of course, hysteria-addled members of the Resistance would not have known this at time of IUD insertion, and were taking mostly precautionary measures in case the earth really did freeze over as a result of a normal democratic transition of power).
Conservatives are not coming for contraception. Many of the legal squabbles related to it of late have been surrounding what insurance providers must pay for, and which types of insurance should be provided by private employers, especially those who are explicitly faith-based. Birth control is still easy to access and emergency contraception, or the morning-after pill, in particular is becoming more accessible on college campuses, via vending machine (oh, how the free market provides).
The percentage of American women who use contraception has actually risen in recent years, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s reports. Trump has not, in any significant way, changed the fact that women can access many varieties of birth control, some cheap, some expensive, all at their leisure (and often under a doctor’s supervision).
Take the woefully misrepresented Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case from 2014. The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby stores, has chosen to run their company in accordance with their Christian faith. This conflicted with the contraception mandate present in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which essentially says “employment-based group health care plans must provide certain types of preventative care, such as FDA-approved contraceptive methods” to their employees. The ACA regulations required employers to pay not just for methods that prevent pregnancy, but also for methods, such as the morning-after pill, that can kill embryos as opposed to solely preventing fertilization.
Since Hobby Lobby is a for-profit company, they could not use the exceptions to this mandate carved out for nonprofit religious organizations. They took the case to the Supreme Court and won an exemption. From Oyez:
The Court held that Congress intended for the RFRA to be read as applying to corporations since they are composed of individuals who use them to achieve desired ends. Because the contraception requirement forces religious corporations to fund what they consider abortion, which goes against their stated religious principles, or face significant fines, it creates a substantial burden that is not the least restrictive method of satisfying the government’s interests. In fact, a less restrictive method exists in the form of the Department of Health and Human Services’ exemption for non-profit religious organizations, which the Court held can and should be applied to for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby.
It’s wildly disingenuous to even insinuate, let alone downright claim, that conservatives want women to become fertility machines or take some sort of sadistic pleasure in depriving women of birth control pills and IUDs. Maybe some do; sometimes conservatives can sound like they’re filled with authoritarian streaks and high on controlling other people’s lives.
But in reality, many conservatives are also Christians who have a constitutional right to not have their government compel them to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. They take moral and ethical quandaries––like whether emergency contraception is more akin to abortion than prevention of fertilization––seriously. It’s foolish to distort Hobby Lobby into something it wasn’t: a power grab.
Generally speaking, it’s likely partisan fearmongering that led women to feel like Trump was such an existential threat to their uteruses that they flocked to their doctors to get contraception that could potentially last them a two-term presidency. Of course, his unsavory character and unpredictable, bombastic demeanor don’t help the cause. But still, it almost seems like we’re losing our ability to confidently and soberly assess what is a genuine threat to our autonomy.
These women are certainly well within their rights to take whatever precautionary measures they’d like to, but the prepper mentality looks quite silly if we’re not, in fact, nearing doomsday.