Does Donald Trump’s ‘repeal and replace’ debate affect women’s birth control choices?

An image of a protester, to illustrate the question of whether or not donald trump's repeal and replace debate is affecting women's birth control choices
New York, New York - November 12, 2016: Protester carrying a sign while marching in a 'Trump is not my President' rally in response to the 2016 Presidential Election of Donald Trump in New York City in 2016. ©iStock-vivalapenler

A new study has assessed whether Donald Trump’s ‘repeal and replace’ debate has had any impact on women’s birth control choices in the United States.

Trump calls to ‘repeal and replace’ the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and has promised to make the 2020 election a referendum on Obamacare.

A new study assessed whether this debate has had any impact on women’s birth control choices using Google Trends to analyse women’s searches for contraceptives.

The study, by Drs. Alicia Nobles and John W. Ayers of UC San Diego, is published in the journal Contraception. 

The Affordable Care Act

According to Elevated Science Communications, studies have shown that the uptake of IUDs under the ACA both reduced women’s total out of pocket health care costs by forty percent and reduced unintended pregnancies.

The relationship between Trump and birth control search term trends

The team found that:

  • Searches for IUDs were cumulatively 15 percent higher than expected the year following the 2016 election (ten to twenty one million more searches);
  • Searches for IUDs were significantly higher in all states, except Nevada; and
  • The increase was consistent regardless whether the state was won by Trump or Clinton.

Ayers, the vice chief of innovation at UC San Diego Medicine and study co-author, commented: “Trump often extols his support of women and their health on Twitter. Surprisingly by threatening to take away their birth control benefits, Trump is prompting more women to consider IUDs, the most effective and long-term cost-efficient form of reversible birth control.”

The team attributes this result to women’s fears of losing access to birth control without the financial burden.

Nobles adds: “Women’s interest in IUDs appears to be a hedge against ACA repeal by providing long-term family planning. Extending our analyses strategy to the week of March 25, 2019, when Trump urged congress to repeal and the Supreme Court to nullify the ACA, we found searches were 15% higher than the previous week.

The importance of affordable women’s healthcare

Ayers concluded: “With millions more than ever voicing their interest in IUDs it is critically important that health policy makers ensure that IUDs remain affordable.”

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