The Great LARC Debate

I am sure you have heard the hype. Not a week goes by without a major media outlet touting the successes of the family planning “magic bullet” called LARCs – long-acting reversible contraceptives. As many of you already know, LARCs are reversible birth control methods that are effective in preventing conception for an extended period of time. LARCs work without user action; they include IUDs and contraceptive implants.

What you may not know, however, is that the National Women’s Health Network has recently been raising its voice to caution against the overly aggressive promotion of LARCs by reproductive health advocates and public officials, particularly to young, low income, and uninsured women. Some of the programs receiving praise have excluded other contraceptive methods, or not guaranteed that women can have their LARC removed, regardless of their ability to pay. We believe it’s wrong to infringe on women’s reproductive autonomy in this way.

We are encouraged by the tremendous progress made in the last 40 years in the design, safety, and efficacy of LARCs. Access to a greater number of effective prevention methods is good for women’s ability to make choices about their health and well-being. We also support the elimination of financial, regulatory, and attitudinal barriers that prevent women from getting LARCs.

As we continue to fight the rampant, on-going attacks on access to contraception and abortion care, we must also be cognizant of the need to continue to protect and defend women’s reproductive autonomy from coercive programmatic or provider practices. Women should have complete information about all contraceptives and should be able to choose, without cost or access barriers, the one that is right for her.

Read more about our advocacy on LARCs in the July/August edition of The Women’s Health Activist entitled, The Great LARC Debate: facilitating a balanced approach to education and promotion of LARCs.” Read the full article, and if you’re not already getting The Women’s Health Activist, get a one-year subscription by becoming a member today!