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LI Planned Parenthood sees wave of donations after Trump win

Since Donald Trump's victory on Nov. 9, Planned

Since Donald Trump's victory on Nov. 9, Planned Parenthood has seen a wave of donations and high interest in long-term birth control options, officials said. Nov. 28, 2016 Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County’s Planned Parenthood has always been busy, but little has compared to the weeks after the presidential election, officials said.

Since Donald Trump’s victory on Election Day, Planned Parenthood, which offers women’s reproductive health services, has seen a wave of donations and high interest in long-term birth control options that can outlast a Trump presidency, amid concerns policies could result in curbed access to abortions and higher costs for birth control.

Trump previously vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which makes many birth control options free through insurance, and to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn the landmark abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade.

“The calls we get are ones of concern at the moment,” said JoAnn Smith, Planned Parenthood of Nassau County’s CEO and president. “People are really, really, really worried about what’s going to happen.”

Donations to Nassau County’s Planned Parenthood reflected mounting concerns, becoming so frequent that the organization struggled to process more than 1,000 individual donations, officials said. That’s more than three times the number of donations the organization received in all of October, and there were just 138 donations in September, Julianna Claase, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman, said. The size of donations has also increased — one supporter raised $12,500, she said.

In Suffolk County, Planned Parenthood has seen “a dramatic increase” in donations since Election Day, according to Alyssa Miller, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, which oversees Suffolk locations. The organization declined to give specific numbers, but Miller said of the donations in November that “many are new supporters, but there are also current supporters making additional gifts to help keep our doors open for the women, men and young adults who need our health care services.”

Recent comments from the Republican president-elect, however, call into question just how much of the Affordable Care Act he would try to dismantle. In a postelection interview on “60 Minutes,” Trump said he would aim to preserve two of the health care law’s provisions, ensuring coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and for young adults who are on their parents’ plans.

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Still, Long Island health care providers said they are busier than ever with requests for information about long-acting reversible contraception, or LARCs, including IUDs. IUDs are small T-shaped devices inserted into the uterus, and can typically be used for three to 10 years. Unlike birth control pills, they don’t require taking medication or refilling a prescription.

According to Google Trends, searches for “IUD” were at a yearly high between Nov. 6 and 12 in the metropolitan area. Similar searches such as “IUD Trump,” “Should I get an IUD” and “Trump birth control” were also flagged as “breakout” searches, a label for queries that saw a significant spike in interest where there were few searches before.

IUDs are popular among Planned Parenthood patients because they can provide protection for as long as a decade, potentially enough to outlast a Trump presidency, Smith said.

She said Planned Parenthood patients have shown a high interest in LARCs, but that the numbers have increased steadily over the past four years, to 832 LARCs distributed so far in 2016 from 200 in 2012.

Dr. Jill Rabin, co-chief of Northwell Health’s division of Ambulatory Care, Women’s Health Programs-PCAP Services, also said that while many patients are interested in LARCs, doctors within Northwell Health’s system can’t yet tie LARC requests to the election because appointment books fill up weeks in advance.

“Basically, we’re always very busy,” Rabin said, adding it’s too early to tell whether a Trump presidency is spurring women to seek long-term birth control.

Long-term birth control has become a common topic of conversation among Michelle Milner’s friends at Stony Brook University. Milner, 21, a senior, is president of the university’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance. The student group is focusing on how to handle birth control access during a Trump presidency.

“Even on my Facebook feed alone, people are constantly sharing articles that talk about ‘Get your IUDs now,’ ” she said. “There’s a big scare right now. It’s like preparing for doomsday.”

Nassau Planned Parenthood and Northwell say women on Long Island will still have affordable access to birth control in the near term. Grant programs often cover whatever insurance doesn’t at Northwell, so officials aren’t yet concerned about patients losing access.

Like Rabin, Smith said she’s confident funding will remain in place to cover IUDs for the near future. Commercial insurance plans, Medicaid and Medicaid-managed plans, plus a state-federal fee scale program all cover the costs, she said, and are expected to continue for the near future.

“New York has always been a beacon for really excellent health care and for reproductive rights,” she said. “We are going to ensure New York remains that beacon.”

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