Oral contraceptives (copy) (copy)

“With abortion banned in Wisconsin, we need to do everything possible to improve access to information and birth control methods so women can plan their pregnancies,” said Lisa Boyce of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is expanding birth control availability and other family planning health care services in its Madison branch, along with a site in Milwaukee, both of which previously provided abortion services.

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and virtually all abortions became illegal across the state, Planned Parenthood has been working to ensure continued health care services.

The expansion of family planning services at Madison’s Planned Parenthood at 3706 Orin Road means the clinic can provide pregnancy assessment, miscarriage management and abortion navigation services. While the clinic once had comprehensive reproductive care, several years ago it switched to only offering abortion services because of the demand, said Lisa Boyce, communications coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

“In Wisconsin, abortion was already so severely restricted (before Roe was overturned),” Boyce said. “We only had three Planned Parenthood facilities providing abortion care, so once we saw that level of demand, it required us to exclusively provide abortion care. All of those family planning services were pushed aside in Madison.”

With abortion now unavailable, the location is offering the same services as the 22 others across the state. 

“With abortion banned in Wisconsin, we need to do everything possible to improve access to information and birth control methods so women can plan their pregnancies,” Boyce said. “We also know the pandemic interrupted people's access to reproductive health care and that there are more than 300,000 women who are in need of affordable birth control.”

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted access to birth control and 30% of people in Wisconsin faced delays or barriers accessing it, a new study from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research and policy organization, found.

Another analysis from the nonprofit Power to Decide shows that more than 320,000 women living at or below the poverty level in Wisconsin live in contraceptive deserts, without “reasonable access to a health center offering the full range of contraceptive methods.”

“It’s more important than ever for people to have access to birth control along with the full range of sexual and reproductive health care service,” Amy Doczy, vice president of patient services for PPWI, said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood and other nonprofits still help people get abortion care through referrals to out of state clinics for abortions, as well as any other needed resources, such as financial assistance, arranging transportation services and more.

PPWI also offers a range of reproductive health care services for both women and men, including breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, HIV testing and education, along with testicular exams and postpartum care.

Boyce said part of the reason they made the Madison and Milwaukee branches full family planning centers is because of an over 100% increase in birth control visits at health centers across the state this month compared to previous years. 

“We saw a significant increase starting in August amongst all our family planning centers for people trying to seek birth control specifically,” Boyce said. “People are definitely being much more attentive to their efforts to be informed about birth control and accessing birth control, we think in part (because of) the Dobbs decision.”

The expansion has required retraining staff who were hired to exclusively provide abortion care to include family planning services to their responsibilities — like birth control counseling, different methods of birth control and how to help patients determine what method will work best for them.

While Boyce didn’t have an exact number on the amount of birth control the Orin Road clinic will receive, she said they have ordered new supplies and equipment.

“We certainly have heard that there's a lot of confusion out there about different birth control methods, even amongst physicians,” Boyce said. “Making sure that people have access to comprehensive information about all of the different birth control methods so individuals can choose the method that's going to work best for them is an absolute priority and needed in this community.”

 

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