top of page
  • Writer's pictureHolly Corbett

Is Birth Control The Next Battle For Reproductive Rights?


A woman looking at a pregnancy test in a pharmacy.
Following the SCOTUS decision that overturned the federal right to an abortion, drugstores such as CVS and Rite Aid placed a cap on purchasing emergency contraception to prevent shortages as demand spiked. GETTY

After Roe v. Wade was overturned last month, concern about other legal precedents that the majority of Americans support also being at risk of reversal—such as same-sex marriage and the right to contraception—has prompted the House to push forward legislation in an effort to protect those rights.


Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a solo concurring opinion on overturning abortion rights that SCOTUS, “should reconsider all of this Court's substantive due process precedents, including Griswold…and Obergefell," also saying, “We have a duty to 'correct the error' established in those precedents." Last week the House passed a bill to protect marriage equality at the federal level to codify sex-same marriage rights established by the 2015 SCOTUS ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges. Public support of same-sex marriage is at an all-time high at 71%, revealed Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs poll. Last week the House also more narrowly passed a bill to federally protect the right to contraception set forth in the 1965 SCOTUS ruling, Griswold v. Connecticut. However, it is unlikely to pass in the Senate, despite the fact that 92% of Americans think contraception is “morally acceptable,” according to a recent Gallup poll.


Recent SCOTUS rulings do not reflect the will of the majority of the country. While legislators are trying to bridge the gap by working to pass bills such as The Right To Contraception Act, some business owners are stepping up to offer support how and where they can. I spoke to Cynthia Plotch and Jamie Norwood, cofounders of Stix, a women’s health product company, about their response to the recent ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, and what they’re doing to help ensure women have access to contraception.


Stix launched a donation bank for their emergency contraception pill, Restart, shortly after the draft majority opinion leak published in POLITICO in late May. Anyone can donate doses or request a dose for free. To date, the Restart donation bank has raised nearly $200,000, and 7,000 free doses of their emergency contraception pill have been redeemed.

“We wanted to offer Restart as a solution and spread awareness about the important role of emergency contraception now that rights are being stripped away,” said Plotch. “It’s clear that the rights and protections of humans in this country are being stripped back by the court. Our mission is to empower confident health decisions. We didn’t want to decrease access by alienating anyone, but as a women’s health company it was too important of an issue not to speak out about. We wanted to educate people that emergency contraception is an option, and democratize access to anyone who needs it—no questions asked.”


Emergency contraception or the morning after pill, such as Restart or Plan B, reduce the chances of pregnancy by delaying ovulation and preventing fertilization. Abortion pills work to stop a developing pregnancy. “I want to scream from the rooftops that emergency contraception is not abortion; they are different things,” says Plotch. “Another misconception is that it will impact your fertility, but that is not true—there are no lasting impacts to emergency contraception.”


Following the SCOTUS decision that overturned the federal right to an abortion, drugstores such as CVS and Rite Aid placed a cap on purchasing emergency contraception to prevent shortages as demand spiked. Stix experienced a similar trend. “When the decision first hit, demand for Restart shot up 600%, and leveled out at a 300% increase in the weeks following the ruling,” said Norwood. “People are stocking up because they are worried about future access.” Stix placed a two per order limit on Restart following the SCOTUS decision to help ensure anyone who wanted the product could get it, and they’ve since increased their limit to 10.


“Right now nobody has the ability to limit emergency contraception, even states with the most restrictive abortion laws, such as Oklahoma, which start at the moment of fertilization,” says Plotch. “That might not be the case forever, but right now we are shipping Restart to every state in the country.”


Leaders of all levels can take action steps to help protect access to contraceptions and abortion healthcare access, which are linked to equality. “We have the potential to organize and make an impact,” says Norwood. “It’s really important to donate to local abortion funds right now, and to vote in the midterm elections this November,” says Norwood. “It’s incredibly important for individuals to take ownership.”


While many companies are offering to pay for those with unwanted pregnancies to travel out of state for abortion access if they live in a state with trigger bans, it’s not realistic that people will feel comfortable talking to their managers about this personal issue.

“Businesses can take a stand to make sure their employees feel supported, and also should put their money where their mouth is,” says Plotch. “It’s not enough to just make an Instagram post; donate funds and allocate resources. Take a strong stance and follow that up with a strong commitment to do the work and set up a system that gives people privacy, safety and dignity in the process by making sure insurance covers the cost of abortion care to remove the employer from it entirely. It’s also a time for businesses to put pressure on state governments and say they’ll take their business and jobs out of state if they limit access.”


Finally, the onus shouldn’t be on individual healthcare providers, but the medical system to make providers aware of what they can and cannot do according to the new patchwork of state laws after the SCOTUS ruling that removed federal protections to abortion healthcare. For example, one woman with a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy in Missouri had to travel to Michigan after a doctor in her home state feared treating her might put them at risk of violating Missouri’s new restrictions on abortion.


“There are so many different ways to interpret the law and lots of confusion, so some kind of national interpretation across the country that providers have access to in order to help them stay above the board and not lose their license while still giving their patients access to the information and resources they need is key,” said Plotch.


*Article originally published in Forbes

Comments


bottom of page