Photo courtesy of Planned Parenthood

“The kind of pain that I experienced, for the length of time that I did… I would have ripped out my IUD with my teeth if I could have.” Holly Jameson*, a 23-year-old college-aged woman living in Rhode Island, was motivated to get an IUD (intrauterine device) – a method of birth control – as a way to prepare for an unpredictable future after the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade.

Since IUDs are generally very safe, Holly felt comfortable quickly deciding an IUD was the best option for her. However, she experienced a lengthy and painful complication that required two emergency room visits and eventually surgery to remedy. The reality of the current political climate means that the loss of access to reproductive healthcare across the nation could put many other women in a very similar position.

The Dobbs decision overruling Roe v. Wade came down on June 24, 2022. It has led to more than just political uncertainty; there’s been a measurable increase in birth control use among teens, especially long-acting reversible forms like IUDs and implants. In fact, the very day the Court overturned Roe, “online birth control appointments also skyrocketed up 150 percent from a typical day, with an even larger 375 percent surge for IUD-seekers.”

While New England states have largely protected the right to abortion and reproductive healthcare, that does not mean the repeal of Roe leaves New England women unaffected.

Young women specifically are put into a very unique position with the repeal of Roe, as they set out to begin their careers. Many women in college often plan to move after they graduate. As a psychology student in New England at the time, Holly felt that she would likely need to travel to more conservative states, such as Arizona, in the future in order to be where the most opportunities were in her field. If she were to move, her options for birth control would become an uncertainty.

Looking at Arizona’s near-total abortion ban passed on September 24th, Holly’s fears have been corroborated.

For Holly, the choice to get an IUD “felt a little like I was stockpiling toilet paper during COVID. I made the best of the options I had available to me.”

At the time of her IUD insertion, Holly also was on a time crunch from a health insurance perspective. She was covered by her college’s student insurance and was unsure if she would be able to get that type of coverage once she graduated.

To be clear, the problem present in this equation is not the existence of IUDs, nor is it women who pursue the IUD as a way to protect themselves, instead it is the creation of an environment where women feel as if an IUD is the only option available to them.

In hearing a story like Holly’s, it is clear that even in states that are likely to keep protecting the right to reproductive healthcare, the repeal of Roe v. Wade has had an immense impact. While the IUD generally remains a powerful and effective tool for women, the uncertain future of women’s reproductive rights is forcing women to make choices, before a state legislature makes one for them.

Marley Belanger is a graduate student at Suffolk University pursuing a degree in Global Public Policy.

*Holly Jameson’s name has been changed to protect their privacy.