Friday, June 14, 2024

Why the giant, inflatable IUD that set DC abuzz could visit your town this year

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A giant, inflatable IUD is going to travel across the country to help educate people about birth control this coming election season, after it made its first appearance in Washington, D.C., before the Senate voted against the Right to Contraception Act.

Americans for Contraception inserted the IUD, a form of birth control, last week to “educate, inform and empower the American public on what is under threat,” Chris Fleming, a spokesperson for the group, told USA TODAY.

The 20-foot inflatable made its first appearance in front of D.C.’s Union Station. It garnered a lot of attention online when people began to post photos of it and jokes on social media.

Explainer: What is the ‘Right to Contraception Act’? A look at how the bill failed and what was in it

“I hope Union Station took an ibuprofen before getting its giant IUD,” posted one account to X, formerly known as Twitter.

“What if we kissed under the giant inflatable IUD?” posted another.

Why an IUD?

“It was an attention-grabbing way to educate the public, and it worked,” said Fleming. He adds that the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

AFC inserted the IUD on Wednesday, the day the Right to Contraception Act was brought before the Senate.

“It’s going to be making appearances across the country in important areas and states for a member election,” said Fleming. “It’s also gonna be in places where folks might not expect to see it, like in the South.”

Jenny Marten, the health training manager at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC, said she saw the IUD.

“I think it is a great opportunity for us to bring attention to a very important topic,” Marten told USA TODAY.

Fleming did not reveal where exactly the IUD would pop up but said that it would continue to travel throughout the election year.

What is an IUD?

An IUD, or Intrauterine Device, is a form of reversible birth control. It’s a plastic device that’s shaped like the letter T and the size of a quarter, according to Marten. Doctors can place it in a person’s uterus, and it can temporarily prevent future pregnancies.

“It’s one of the most effective forms of birth control available,” said Marten.

It’s also growing in popularity.

Between 2006 and 2010, only 8% of women relied on an IUD for birth control, but, between 2015 and 2019, the number jumped to 20%, stated Marten.

While it works well to prevent pregnancies, people with IUDs can get them removed whenever they want to. Those who decide to have a baby can get it removed and immediately start trying to conceive.

“Every patient is different, but typically a person can get pregnant once the IUD has been removed,” said Marten

Different types of IUDs

There are five different brands of IUDs, according to Planned Parenthood’s website:

  • Paragard– Copper, works for up to 12 years
  • Mirena– Hormonal, works for up to eight years
  • Liletta– Hormonal, works for up to eight years
  • Kyleena– Hormonal, works for up to five years
  • Skyla– Hormonal, works for up to three years

Some IUDs, which are fully plastic, prevent pregnancy by administering a hormone called progestin. Other IUDs, like Paragard, are nonhormonal and are wrapped in copper. Both work by changing the way sperm cells move in the uterus and prevent them from reaching an egg.

Emergency contraception

IUDs can also be used as a form of emergency contraception.

Similar to Plan B, they can be used to prevent pregnancy for up to 5 days after having unprotected sex, according to Marten.

However, despite common misconceptions, IUDs do not induce an abortion.

“Research has shown that IUDs are very effective and they’re safe,” she said. “Research has also shown that IUDs do not induce an abortion.”

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What is the Right to Contraception Act? What happens if passed?

The Right to Contraception Act was first introduced by Democrats in 2022. The bill aims to protect Americans’ rights to use contraception.

Right to Contraception Act

The Right to Contraception Act set out to protect a person’s right to access birth control, and a medical provider’s right to prescribe it.

However, Senate Republicans blocked the bill.

Sen. Marco Rubio and other Republican senators who voted against the bill, signed a letter that explained why they opposed the bill.

“There is no threat to access to contraception,” states the letter. It adds that the bill infringes on parental rights.

The senators who signed the letter called it a “stunt legislation.”

“Why do you need a law to address a problem that doesn’t exist?” asked Rubio at a press conference that was posted on X.

However, Democrats disagree. President Joe Biden said GOP lawmakers have already attacked access to contraception by proposing to defund the Title X Family Planning Program, the only program that is only dedicated to family planning.

“Dangerous and extreme abortion bans are putting women’s health and lives at risk, and disrupting access to critical health care services, including contraception, as health care providers are forced to close in states across the country,” said Biden. “Attacks on contraception are an affront to women’s dignity and their ability to make their own decisions about their lives.”

Though the bill was rejected,. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., changed his vote to “nay,” which will allow him to bring the legislation to the floor again in the future.

Contributing: Rachel Barber, USA TODAY

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