Delaware expands access to contraceptives for women

Gov. Markell spoke to employees of the Henrietta Johnson Health Clinic about the importance of access to contraception. (Newsworks/Zoë Read)

Gov. Markell spoke to employees of the Henrietta Johnson Health Clinic about the importance of access to contraception. (Newsworks/Zoë Read)

Delaware is receiving more than $10 million as part of an effort to expand access to a range of contraceptives, including IUDs and implants, to all women in the state.

Gov. Jack Markell (D-Delaware) visited employees of the Henrietta Johnson Health Clinic Wednesday to announce private funding dedicated to Delaware Contraceptive Access Now—an initiative aimed at ensuring all women have same-day access to contraception at low or no cost.  

“I’ve met too many women who have had to drop out of the workforce, drop out of school, when they had a baby when they weren’t intending to have a baby and weren’t ready to have a baby,” Markell said.

“Just in terms of opportunity, this represents for these women to develop their life and career more if that’s what they choose to do.”

Upstream USA, an organization dedicated to providing access to contraceptives, will provide training and technical assistance to publicly funded health centers and private providers in the state so they can offer patients a full range of contraceptive methods on a same-day basis.  

The state will also reallocate $1.75 million from existing Division of Public Health funds for the project.

The announcement follows the governor’s State of the State speech last month, for which he addressed the importance of access to contraceptives and his intention to provide better access to quality women’s health in Delaware.

Henrietta Johnson Health Clinic employees began training Wednesday as part of the $10 million program, which focuses on the implementation of IUDs and implants as contraceptive options—which health experts say are the most effective forms of birth control.

“It can take a lot of work to transform a health care practice to make it so that a device such as this or any practice change gets implanted to its maximum effectiveness,” said Director of the Delaware Division of Public Health Dr. Karyl Rattay.

Delaware’s unplanned pregnancy rate of 57 percent is among the highest in the nation, according to the state.

Health experts say unplanned pregnancies and births can be associated with delayed prenatal care, increased poverty, premature birth and reduced physical and mental health.

While the Affordable Care Act made all forms of birth control available with no out-of-pocket costs, there are still more steps that need to be taken to increase accessibility of IUDs and implants.

“These methods are well tolerated and very safe so some would say in comparison to the pill they are even safer,” Rattay said. “But we certainly know for many women prefer these methods once they know about them and know the side effects are very limited.”

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