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Contraceptives are still in high demand in Utah 3 months after Supreme Court’s Roe decision

In some parts of the Mountain West like Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming, teen pregnancy rates are higher than average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New research from the University of Colorado Boulder finds that when access to contraceptives goes up, the percentage of girls who drop out of high school goes down. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.
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Despite the increase in demand for contraceptive services, many Utahns still live in what one family planning researcher calls “contraceptive deserts” where few or no services are offered at all.

Demand for contraceptive care has been steadily increasing in Utah since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. A recent spike in appointments at the University of Utah’s Rapid Access Contraception Clinic reflects the need.

“[Appointments] have doubled last week to this week. It’s not just like a little blip from the end of June,” said Dr. David Turok, the director of the ASCENT Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health. “This is ongoing and people are accessing the care, which is great.”

The clinic provides all forms of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration. That includes emergency contraceptives like Plan B, which is also available at no cost at nine university-affiliated pharmacies.

And it's not just young people who are seeking services.

“We have seen this 18-24 [year old] uptick, as well as people who are done with their childbearing and want a more effective and oftentimes permanent method,” said Jessica Sanders, the director of family planning research and policy director at Family Planning Elevated.

Clinics across Utah, she said, have seen a surge in inquiries about contraception. Urologists have also seen increases in inquiries about vasectomies. Obstetrician-gynecologists have fielded more questions about sterilizations. Despite the increase in services, many Utahns still live in what she calls “contraceptive deserts” where few or no services are offered at all.

“There are actually counties without any clinics that offer the full range of methods,” Sanders said. “You might be able to access birth control pills, but if you want an [intrauterine device] or implant, you might have to travel to access that.”

The view of many in the health care community is that the issue of access is of critical importance.

“In Utah, where barriers are removed, especially cost, more people select the most effective methods, which result in fewer unplanned pregnancies and reduce the need for abortion,” Sanders said. “At this moment, I think people are paying a lot of attention to that.”

Despite recent ‘cease-and-desist’ letters sent by some state lawmakers, abortions up to 18 weeks of pregnancy are currently legal in Utah while the fate of the state’s trigger law is decided in state court.

Sean is KUER’s politics reporter.
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