Election 2016

At Syracuse University and elsewhere, women’s health care faces uncertainty under Trump

Frankie Prijatel | Staff Photographer

Morgan Dudzinski, a senior at Syracuse University, sits outside Planned Parenthood. She plans to go to an appointment at Planned Parenthood to discuss the possibility of receiving an intrauterine device to prevent pregnancy long-term.

Within the next week, Morgan Dudzinski will go to her appointment at Planned Parenthood to discuss the possibility of receiving an intrauterine device to prevent pregnancy long-term. It’s an option she thinks she needs to explore more urgently now that Republicans have won control of the House and Senate under President-elect Donald Trump.

Trump’s campaign was marked by attacks on women’s reproductive rights, stating that he would punish women who have abortions and reverse the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision regarding abortion rights.

Trump has also hinted that he will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which could lead to IUDS no longer being covered under the act in the insurance plans for some.

So immediately after his win, women across the United States began discussing long-term birth control options such as IUDs on social media. They’re looking to outlast the possible damage to reproductive rights that may occur under Trump’s presidency.

Since Trump’s win, health administrators at Syracuse University said they haven’t yet seen an influx of interest among students on campus to get IUDs — a small piece of plastic shaped like a “T” that is inserted into the uterus and can prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years. IUDs currently aren’t available through SU Health Services, although that could change within the next year, said Dr. Karen Nardella, the medical director of Health Services.

After all, some women such as Dudzinski have worried the ACA’s mandate requiring insurance companies to offer all forms of no-cost birth control will be struck down under Trump. So they’re acting now.

“I knew I had to make sure that I was going to be safe if, God forbid, the worst happens,” said Dudzinski, a senior public relations and communication and rhetorical studies double major at SU.

Ben Domingo, director of SU’s Health Services, in a November interview called Trump’s proposed amendment of the ACA a cause for concern and said women’s health and mental health are “under attack.” All students are currently required to have ACA compliant health insurance.

Trump also appointed Republican Tom Price as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary Tuesday. Price, a congressman from Georgia, told ThinkProgress in 2012 that he thinks the birth control mandate in the ACA is unnecessary.

The appointment is particularly significant because the HHS department has the power to take down the birth control mandate without going through Congress. In the text of the law, the ACA does not specifically cite “contraceptives” or “birth control” and says health insurance coverage must include preventive health benefits for women. The HHS then decides what preventive health benefits means, which Price could easily redefine to exclude contraceptives and birth control.

Another concern is the possibility that Congress will defund the major women’s health care provider, Planned Parenthood. Republicans have already attempted such efforts when the Senate passed a budget bill repealing the ACA and stripping Planned Parenthood of its federal dollars in late 2015, but President Barack Obama vetoed it shortly after in January.

Since the ACA was enacted, a significant number of women have been able to pay less for their birth control, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. By 2014, only 3.7 percent of women enrolled in health insurance paid out-of-pocket for birth control — a dip compared to the 22 percent of women who had to pay out-of-pocket in 2012.

“I’d rather have an IUD now, and if it turns out, ‘Hey, you don’t need it anymore, you were totally overreacting,’ Oh well — I guess I’m covered for five, 10 years, so not the worst thing to happen,” Dudzinski said.

Health administrators haven’t seen an increase on campus among students to get IUDs, possibly because students have only been on campus for two weeks since the election, said Nardella, the medical director of Health Services.

If students want to get an IUD, they have to go to another health care provider off-campus for the quick procedure, such as Planned Parenthood on East Genesee Street. However, Nardella said she is hoping SU Health Services can offer the procedure on campus within the next year.

During an IUD procedure, Nardella said a patient can expect “some cramping. It can be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t last very long — just a few minutes.”

Overall, Nardella noted that long-acting reversible contraceptives, such as the IUD, have become increasingly popular nationwide, and have steadily been seen in more students at SU over the past couple years.

The main benefit to having an IUD over the pill is the success rate, Nardella said. The IUD has a 100 percent success rate, while the pill only has a 91 percent success rate, due to user error, she said. The IUD also has less side effects than the pill, because hormonal IUDs only impact the uterus, while the hormones in the pill are more systemic, she added. Neither of the two contraceptives protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

The stability of the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade federally legalizing abortion may also be at risk under Trump, with one seat on the Supreme Court now up for nomination and three more to likely open up as well.

In his first interview as president-elect, Trump told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he would appoint a pro-life Supreme Court justice, adding that abortion “would go back to the states” if the Supreme Court overturned it.

Katie Pataki, a junior women’s and gender studies and sociology double major, said she is afraid that Trump could reverse the Roe v. Wade decision.

Betty DeFazio, the director of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York, said she’s still hopeful that the birth control mandate will remain unscathed in a Republican Congress, but added that it’s still too early to know what will happen.

“We don’t fully know yet what exactly will be implemented or changed under a new administration,” DeFazio said. “I think we’re going to have to wait to see what actually is proposed.”

Whether birth control becomes more costly, abortions become federally illegal or Planned Parenthood is defunded, DeFazio said the nationwide women’s health care provider is “going to be here no matter what and these doors will stay open.”

Top Stories