The day after the draft decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was leaked in May, 36-year-old Columbus resident Kristen Porter scheduled an appointment to have her fallopian tubes removed at the end of July.
“If I have a health issue with a pregnancy, I don’t feel confident anymore that I am going to have the ability to take the necessary medical steps to maintain my health or my life,” she said.
Porter doesn’t want children and she’s had issues with forms of hormonal birth control. But she said she would not have taken this drastic step if she believed her right to an abortion would remain secure.
In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and Ohio soon after banning abortion after fetal cardiac activity can be detected, some state residents are moving swiftly to guard against pregnancy, including stocking up on emergency contraception such as Plan B pills or getting sterilized.
At Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, for example, there are typically about 10 vasectomy consultations per week, spokeswoman Mary Ellen Fiorino said. But that number has already jumped in the week since Roe was overturned, with the medical center receiving 20 requests for consultations as of Thursday.
In Cincinnati, a father of 12-year-old and 9-year-old daughters said he stocked up on Plan B pills after the draft leaked using a fake Amazon account and a P.O. Box. The dad, who asked that his name not be used, said the fact that the Ohio law restricting abortions does not include an exception for rape motivated him to make the purchase.
“I refuse to let their lives be ruined because of someone else’s choices,” he said.
This past week, Rite Aid and CVS temporarily capped the number of Plan B pills a customer could buy after the retail pharmacy chains saw increases in demand. Plan B pills typically have an expiration date of about four years. Though they could be taken without harm after the expiration date, there are no guarantees on how effective they would be in preventing pregnancy after that date.
But not all pharmacies are reporting demand issues. A Walgreens spokesperson told USA Today that the company was able to meet demand and didn’t need to implement a limit. As of Thursday, Amazon’s website indicated it could deliver Plan B within a week.
Pharmacists at White’s Pharmacy in Columbus and Tremont Pharmacy in Upper Arlington said they have not noticed any increase in demand for emergency contraceptives or birth control pills.
Women Have Options, a Columbus-based nonprofit group that provides financial assistance and practical support for patients seeking abortions, gives away emergency contraception through community partners. Sam Woodring, a group representative, said the group has struggled to keep emergency contraception in stock lately. In the past week, the group has given out over 250 doses. At one Columbus location, 200 doses were claimed within a few days.
“We generally don’t see this level of demand — nowhere near it, in fact,” Woodring said. “Over the last several years, our distribution was much more sparse and sporadic, only going through 100 boxes every few months.”
Due to the increased interest, Women Have Options ordered an additional 600 boxes for distribution. In the past week, about 15 more organizations and businesses have requested to become partners that distribute doses.
Jordan S., a 22-year-old living in the Dayton-area who asked The Dispatch not to use her last name, ordered Plan B on Amazon at the urging of her mother on the day the Supreme Court overturned Roe.
“I’ve never taken one, never purchased one. Seems like something I needed to do. I’m worried Plan B will get banned too,” she said. “It’s terrifying that I have to plan for the possibility of something bad happening to me like sexual assault.”
Some industry experts downplayed any fears over a potential shortage of birth control.
OhioHealth told The Dispatch that its physicians are not seeing an increase in demand for contraception.
The number of women who already take birth control for a variety of health reasons is high, said Ernest Boyd, executive director of the Ohio Pharmacists Association. He said any increase in demand due to the Supreme Court’s ruling may not even be noticeable, and he is not aware of any concerns about birth control supplies among the organization’s membership.
“Maybe it’ll become an issue, but in my head I don’t see that adding up,” Boyd said. “Certainly there may be some issues? But will it be huge?”
Antonio Ciaccia, a Columbus-based pharmaceutical industry expert and adviser for the American Pharmacists Association, said he doesn’t expect any birth control supply shortages.
“I have no concerns because the pill is widely available and a lot of manufacturers are making it,” Ciaccia said. “The generic drug industry is extremely resilient and there are many generics for this pill.”
Problems would likely only arise if people began stockpiling the drugs, he said.
Dispatch reporter Max Filby and information from USA Today contributed to this story.
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