The realization that Donald Trump and Mike Pence will be moving into the White House this January has caused many women, and their uteruses, to feel under attack—and for good reason.
Throughout their presidential campaign, Trump and Pence were open about their desire to restrict women's reproductive health care by overturning Roe v Wade, defunding Planned Parenthood, and repealing the Affordable Care Act, which grants millions of women access to both contraception and preventative care. As a result, women are starting to fear what their health care will look like under the president- and vice president-elect, who seemingly want to take a time machine back to 1950 when birth control consisted of women putting an aspirin between their knees.
In light of this fear, I reached out to experts to learn what women can do now to protect themselves and their reproductive organs down the line.
The Affordable Care Act mandates that all insurance companies must cover the cost of contraception: Since Obama signed the act into law, most women have not had a copay for their birth control. If Trump repeals the law, many women will struggle to afford contraception.
"If the ACA is dissolved and women don't have private insurance, contraception prices can go up," says Kristyn Brandi, a family planning specialist at Boston Medical Center who specializes in abortion and contraception. "If you’re paying out of pocket for it, it’s going to be expensive, especially for low income women who don't fall under Medicaid."
Thus, experts advise that women visit a doctor or women's health clinic now to discuss contraception options before Trump takes office. "I would urge women to consider the best contraceptive that fits their needs and not to delay getting that," adds Donna Crane, the vice president of policy for NARAL Pro-Choice America, one of the country's leading reproductive rights advocacy groups.
An intrauterine device, or IUD, is a long-acting, reversible form of birth control that comes in both hormonal and non-hormonal varieties. As the name implies, the device is inserted into a woman's uterus; depending on the model, it can prevent pregnancy for five to 12 years (as long as it remains in the body). It's a great option for women who don't think they want to have kids for a while, or ever.
If Trump repeals the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could stop covering IUDs—and the device may start costing women from $500 to $1,400. That's why women should consider taking advantage of their current insurance and get an IUD now, say women's health advocates.
Boston Medical's Brandi, who is also a member of the advocacy group Physicians for Reproductive Health, says she's already treated patients who are either seeking an IUD for the first time or asking to have their IUD replaced (to increase the span of its coverage), since Trump was elected.
As I mentioned, the Affordable Care Act grants women access to birth control pills at no additional cost—and if the law is repealed, that coverage could go away. However, even if Trump is unable overturn the law, Vox explains, Trump could use a regulatory maneuver to end birth control coverage.
In preparation for any cost increases down the road, women who rely on birth control pills can preemptively ask their pharmacy for more than one month at a time. While some insurance plans put a limit on how many packs you can pick up at once, try calling your insurance company and asking if the cap can be raised. Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, supplies up to a year's worth of pills at a time.
Access to all women's reproductive health care services could become more restricted under a Trump administration, which is why advocates recommend purchasing emergency contraception now, just in case it's needed down the road. "If other contraception goes away, it would be important to have," says NARAL's Crane. Luckily, Plan B One-Step, one of four emergency contraception products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is currently available without a prescription, so you can pick some up today.
Even though Plan B is available without a prescription, some states still make it tricky to access by allowing pharmacies to put it under lock and key—or allowing pharmacies to deny selling it outright. Thus, it's more vital than ever that women know their rights, says Gretchen Borchelt, vice president for reproductive rights and health and National Women's Law Center.
The Food and Drug Administration has made it clear that Plan B can be sold over-the-counter, that it should be easily accessible to customers, and that pharmacies don't have to check customers' identification to purchase the drug.
"There are no point of sale restrictions, no age restriction—any individual can purchase it, and there’s no limit to the [quantity] you can purchase," explains Borchelt.
If a pharmacist refuses to sell you emergency contraception in a state where doing so is illegal, let him or her know it's your right to purchase it, then complain to a manager. "Take it up the chain," she says. If that doesn't work, you can file a complaint with your state's Board of Pharmacy or reach out to organizations like the National Women's Law Center for help.
Trump has vowed to appoint a Supreme Court justice who will work to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 court decision that made abortion a constitutional right. On Sunday, Trump told CBS' 60 Minutes that if Roe is overturned, abortion's legality would be decided on a state-by-state basis—and if a state wants to restrict women's access, women could simply drive to another state.
While Roe won't be overturned overnight, it's never too soon to start researching your state's abortion laws and options. "I would urge women to become much more aware of where their clinics are," says NARAL's Crane. She adds that many states—including Louisiana, North Dakota, and Mississippi—already have "trigger bans" in place, so the moment Roe is (theoretically) overturned abortion would become nearly illegal.
Even states that are currently abortion-friendly may not stay that way. "That is the height of ignorance, to suggest that women can go to another state," says Crane of Trump's remarks on 60 Minutes. "If the Supreme Court has [the] votes to roll back [Roe], it also has the votes to criminalize abortion nationwide."
Given how tenuous the future of women's health care appears to be under a Trump administration, consider making an appointment with a doctor or clinic today, to get a jump on any broader health care needs. "[Women should] take full advantage of the health insurance [they] do have now," says Crane.
Not to mention, the president-elect has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood, which millions of women rely on for general healthcare, including STD testing, cancer screenings, and maternity care—not just abortions. "We absolutely think Planned Parenthood is at risk," says Crane. "Get the care that you need now."
Planned Parenthood has vowed to keep its doors open despite Trump's plans, and NARAL says any efforts to defund the organization or others like it won't happen without a fight.
Now more than ever, it's vital for women to fight for their reproductive rights. Women can do this by reminding their local lawmakers that taking away reproductive rights does not reflect the will of the American people, and will not stand, says Crane. Indeed, 56% of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 67% think employers should be required to offer birth control coverage.
"Women need to know who their elected officials are and tell them in no uncertain terms that we will not stand by and watch our rights be dismantled," she says, adding that there will be a "political price to pay" for any elected official who doesn't stand up for the rights of women.
So how can you do this? Crane says to literally pick up the phone and call your elected officials. Write them a letter. Donate to organizations like Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the National Network of Abortion Funds. Join Facebook groups like Pantsuit Nation. Volunteer at clinics. Offer to be an escort at abortion centers. Participate in marches. But most importantly, don't sit back and just let this happen.
"Spend as much time as possible reaching out and making your voice heard," says Crane. "Let [lawmakers] know this is so out of sync with our values, and there is no credible line of thinking that this is something the American people will support." Who's ready for battle?
Taryn Hillin is Fusion's love and sex writer, with a large focus on the science of relationships. She also loves dogs, Bourbon barrel-aged beers and popcorn — not necessarily in that order.