We all sensed when Donald Trump won the presidential election last November that the days of free birth control under the Affordable Care Act were numbered. It wasn't until he took office and Republicans introduced their "repeal and replace" bill, however, that the dire future of birth control in the United States started to become clear. That's why one doctor is advising women to get their birth control now to guard against the dark and uncertain future of what may become of birth control access under the Republicans' American Health Care Act.
In an interview with Jezebel's aptly-titled "Big Time Dicks" podcast, Dr. Kavita Patel of Johns Hopkins and the Brookings Institution made some very scary predictions about reproductive health under the GOP's Obamacare repeal bill:
Planned Parenthood will go away, Medicaid paying for contraception will probably go away. Here’s the truth as a woman: Go get your birth control now because, honestly, nobody knows if all of this passes if you’ll be able to get this in three months.
Patel, who worked with the Obama administration to craft the ACA, echoed the anxiety induced by close readings of the AHCA that includes provisions that would defund Planned Parenthood and restrict Medicaid coverage. If Trump's election itself was enough to cause a spike in IUD appointments, the AHCA is more than enough to cause you to get your birth control future situated.
While the AHCA won't undo the free birth control mandate for those with insurance, the ACA repeal's provisions on Planned Parenthood and Medicaid paired with the GOP's Trump-era vigor for attacks on abortion rights mean that this small silver lining may not mean much when and if these reproductive restrictions go through.
Birth control access may also be threatened by Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Trump's conservative Food and Drug Administration nominee who falsely claimed that the ACA's birth control mandate would cause women to "risk losing far more than they'll gain." In 2015, Gottlieb wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed based on debunked videos from an anti-abortion group that misleadingly edited footage to make Planned Parenthood employees appear to condone and encourage the selling of fetal tissue from abortions. Adding in Gottlieb's ties to the pharmaceutical industry makes his potential role as head of the FDA seem foreboding for safe birth control access.
No matter which way you paint it, the ACA repeal and its replacement will greatly affect birth control access, especially for low-income people who rely on Medicaid and Planned Parenthood for contraception. If you're not on birth control and have sex that risks pregnancy, you should figure out which method you want to use ASAP — before it's too late to get it.