To counter Del.’s high rate of unplanned pregnancy, Markell promotes access to birth control

    Former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell

    Former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell. (AP file photo/Steve Ruark)

    At 57 percent, Delaware’s rate of unplanned pregnancy is the highest in the U.S.

    Gov. Jack Markell wants to change that.

    He would like to expand access to long-acting birth control — such as intrauterine devices — to all women of childbearing age by the end of 2017.

    “One of the most important things we can do, to have people reach their potential, is to have women have their children when they really want them,” he said.

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    By expanding access to long-lasting, highly effective birth control, Markell said he’ll boost prosperity in the First State, where one in every five children lives in poverty.

    To do that, his administration is partnering with a group called Upstream USA, a San Francisco nonprofit that provides training to health care workers on how to place IUDs as well as offer counseling to women.

    “It means not just training the health care professionals on how to place the devices but also working with the people in scheduling and coding and billing in making sure that it’s really a team effort,” the governor explained.

    Mark Edwards, the co-founder of Upstream USA, said often women aren’t given a full range of options.

    “They’re given really a false choice. They’re told, you can get the pill today, if you want contraception,” he said. “But it will take you two or three more visits to get these other, more effective methods.”

    Under their model, women can get an IUD or implant on the same day as their visit.

    Over the next two years, the organization will train health care workers all over Delaware.

    Philanthropic money — around $13 million — will subsidize the program. Another $1.75 million will be reallocated from the state’s division of public health budget.

    For most women, said Edwards, these methods of contraception will be free.

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