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Illinois Planned Parenthood Introduces Free Birth Control Program

Planned Parenthood of Illinois is stepping up to the plate in a big way when it comes to helping women in the state secure effective birth control. Last week, the organization announced that it will offer free birth control for one year to eligible patients who can’t afford the cost.

This announcement comes at a crucial time in the United States. For months, the Trump Administration has been making numerous attempts to restrict contraceptive access and funding across the country, which, if successful, would make it easier for companies to claim a religious or nonreligious moral exemption from the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Fortunately, the latest attempt to roll back these rules were blocked by a federal judge in California, but the fight is likely far from over.

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Over 5,500 women came to the state of Illinois to have an abortion last year, in wake of growing restrictions in the Midwest. In fact, in the aftermath of the November 2016 election, IUD use spiked nearly 22 per cent. This is likely attributed to the fear of future restrictions.

Fortunately, the new initiative by Planned Parenthood, called Access Birth Control, covers a wide variety of contraceptive options, including injectable birth control, vaginal rings, oral contraceptive pills and condoms, as well as intrauterine devices and implants. According to spokeswoman Julie Lynn, women often seek the least expensive form of birth control, and not necessarily the best method for them. This would eliminate those restrictions, allowing women to use the method of birth control they prefer rather than the one that is the cheapest.

"A lot of the time, people will get the method that’s most cost-effective rather than the method that’s best for them," she said. "We want everyone to have access to their preferred method of birth control without cost as a barrier."

This latest initiative, which is funded by private philanthropy, will be available until 2121. It will aim to meet the needs of a diverse patient base, ranging from those who are uninsured and need to pay out of pocket, to those who have private health insurance that doesn't cover contraceptives, to even those who are ineligible for Medicaid, such as undocumented immigrants.

"Increasing access to affordable and comprehensive healthcare remains our priority, despite the challenges of America’s complex health system," said Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

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