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State announces $10M partnership to promote birth control access

An IUD is one highly effective birth control method the new partnership is promoting.

Delaware is assembling $10 million for an effort to make more kinds of contraceptives available to more women more quickly.

The First State has one of the highest rates of unplanned pregnancy in the country, at 57 percent. It also struggles with teen pregnancy. Gov. Jack Markell made changing those a priority for his last year in office in his State of the State address.

Now, the state is kicking $1.75 million into a public-private partnership with Upstream USA and other nonprofits. It'll train providers to prescribe and administer more forms of birth control.

Upstream co-founder Mark Edwards says they've worked with local health systems on programs like this before, but never an entire state.


"It really, I think, could make a dramatic impact -- not just for women in Delaware and men today, but really for generations," he says. "If you can really change the rates of unplanned pregnancy, I think it could have ripples for many years to come."

Edwards says they're stressing that implants and IUDs are more effective than the pill. But...

"Our goal is really for women to have a choice," he says. "They should be able to choose the method that works for them with complete information about the varying efficacy rates of various methods."

And he says they want women to be able to get birth control -- whether or not they have insurance. The new fund, known as Delaware CAN, or Contraceptive Access Now, will subsidize birth control for the uninsured.

Edwards says they'll also adjust insurance policies and work with the largest hospitals first, and later smaller providers, on making sure women can get the contraceptive they want within 24 hours, including right after giving birth.

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