Surviving in a Contraception Desert

If you were stranded on a desert island, birth control might not be the first thing on your mind. But what if you’re in a regular small town, with no doctors in sight? Welcome to the contraception desert. In Rockingham County, for example, there are zero family planning clinics—nearly 5,000 women are without access to family planning.

The Trump Administration’s recent efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, conservative opposition to Title X funding [Title X is a federal program dedicated to family planning], and Virginia’s reluctance to expand Medicaid, have left many Virginians without access to affordable reproductive healthcare.

Expanding Medicaid would help more women access birth control. Tell your legislators to support Medicaid expansion!

Family planning clinics are too far away to be the only answer

1 in 10 women are uninsured in Virginia. A third of all women would not be able to pay for birth control out of pocket if it cost more than $10 a month.

Family planning clinics are available to uninsured women but, in rural areas, these clinics are often too far away for women to access care. As states and the federal government make it harder for clinics to get Title X funding, there’s less money for clinics to operate, and therefore less access to birth control.

In rural communities, the nearest family planning clinic might be dozens of miles away. And even if there is a clinic within a few miles, limiting funds also means limiting hours. For a working woman, a clinic with no late or weekend hours that is only accessible by public transportation is no help at all.

Birth Control. There’s an app for that.

Seriously. There is. A new app called Nurx is available in Virginia (and in other states). Nurx aims to make getting birth control as easy as ordering from Amazon—and it’s doing just that by helping women in rural and urban communities get affordable birth control.

Though you can’t get you all of the birth control options (like an IUD) through the app, it will deliver basic birth control right to your door. For women too far away to visit a clinic, that’s huge.

While you don’t have to visit a doctor’s office or pharmacy to use Nurx, there are still some costs associated if you don’t have health insurance. Nurx also doesn’t accept Medicaid.

Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will help women get birth control

In Virginia, Medicaid expansion would help some uninsured women access birth control.

Under the Affordable Care Act, birth control is supposed to be free and accessible. For poor women and women in rural communities that’s not always true. Conservative legislators’ refusal to expand Medicaid has left 400,000 in a healthcare coverage gap. These individuals are too poor to quality for Medicaid and can’t afford healthcare off the marketplace.

If Virginia lawmakers in the Senate decide to fund Medicaid expansion on April 11, more of us will be able to access affordable birth control. It’s that simple. So tell your legislators today to support Medicaid expansion.