All women deserve access to the birth control method of their choice

Empowering women to choose for themselves when and if they become pregnant means making sure that any woman can receive any method of birth control in just one visit to her provider. This happens far too rarely – too often women aren’t even asked about their contraceptive and pregnancy goals when they visit their provider. If they are asked, they’re often required to make two or three more visits just to receive the method of their choice. New research published last week in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that only 11% of primary care providers regularly provide IUDs and implants, which are considered the most effective forms of birth control at preventing unplanned pregnancy.

But not in Delaware. Today, all women have access to the full range of contraceptive options for free or low cost at healthcare providers across the state, including primary care providers. And our research shows that women are receiving patient-centered care in the healthcare system: 99% of patients surveyed say that they were in charge of making their own decision about their birth control, and more 98% say that they were listened to by their provider, and didn’t feel pressured to make any particular choice for their method. This strongly affirms one of our central goals: Upstream-trained providers are empowering patients to make their own decisions about their contraception.

We are very proud of our patient survey results, but we are even more proud of what we hear directly from the patients themselves:

Mia just finished her residency at dental school. She had never discussed a full range of contraceptive options with her doctors, and figured the pill was her only option. Through Upstream’s work, she learned she had other choices and easy access to healthcare providers – she made an appointment, discussed all of the options available to her at low or no cost, and chose a method that worked best for her lifestyle.

I felt really, really great about going to the doctor's office and saying this is what I want to do and being able to get it… [Birth control] means the opportunity to have a choice. I feel empowered. It’s been amazing for me to be able to succeed at my career and do the things that I want to do without worrying about an unplanned pregnancy.

Brittany hopes to have a career as a nurse practitioner. She originally went to her OB-GYN for birth control, who told her to call her insurance to see what was covered, only to then be told it would cost $2,000 for an IUD. She told herself, “I guess I’ll have to get better at taking the pill.” A year later, Brittany learned that she had free access to birth control as a result of her health center’s work with Upstream. During her appointment she was able to choose and receive an IUD at no cost.

My IUD lets me plan my life. Lets me focus on school. I have big career goals, and not having to worry about kids is important. It’s a big deal not just for me but I’m passionate about all women being able to achieve their goals without having to worry about becoming pregnant.

Kori is an aspiring Broadway performer, enthusiastic member of her church choir, and previously worked as a catering manager at a local cafe. She shared her birth control journey in more detail with us in this short video clip.

I did something for me, and I own it. I feel so empowered as a woman.

All comprehensive approaches to expanding opportunity at scale must include pregnancy planning and prevention. Nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned, and there are 1.5 million unplanned births each year. We’re proud to work alongside our partner agencies to make sure all women have access to best in class contraceptive care. We’re clear about what we’re doing and go to great lengths to ensure we do it well – and we stand by the fact that today, four years after Upstream’s founding, we’re on track to work with health centers serving more than 1 million women in the next five years.

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