As part of his annual State of the State address, Delaware Governor Jack Markell announced an innovative, new public/private partnership, Delaware CAN (Contraceptive Access Now). Upstream USA, a national nonprofit organization, and the Delaware Division of Public Health will ensure that all women, regardless of insurance status or where they get their healthcare, will have same-day access to the full range of contraceptive methods, at low or no-cost.
Delaware’s unintended pregnancy rate is among the highest in the nation. In 2010, 57 percent of Delaware’s 19,300 pregnancies were unintended. Unintended births are associated with a range of adverse maternal and child health outcomes, including delayed prenatal care, increased poverty, premature birth, and poor physical and mental health. Most unplanned pregnancies occur to women using a method of contraception that is not effective for them. The most effective methods, IUDs and implants, are not easily available to women across the country, including Delaware. Many health care providers have not been trained to place these Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARCs) methods, and administrative and counseling units in health centers often use inefficient billing and intake procedures.
Upstream USA will provide training, technical assistance, and quality improvement to all publicly funded health centers and the largest private providers in the state so that they can offer their patients the full range of contraceptive methods the same day requested. A consumer-facing public awareness campaign will inform women about contraceptive options and health center locations to access low or no-cost birth control. A significant, independent evaluation will track a broad set of outcomes.
“It is our responsibility to create an environment where people can see their full potential and I’ve come to believe that helping women achieve their own goals and become pregnant only when they want to may be one of the most important things we can do in this regard,” said Delaware Governor Jack Markell. “Delaware CAN has the potential to make a profound impact on opportunity for generations.”
“Upstream USA is proud to partner with Governor Markell and the State of Delaware to eliminate barriers for all women to receive same-day access to the best reproductive care,” said Mark Edwards, co-founder of Upstream USA. “The innovative public/private partnership of Delaware CAN demonstrates the significance of women’s health in efforts to expand opportunity.”
“IUDs and implants are 20 times more effective than the pill, safe, convenient and recommended by the major medical governing bodies in the field, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, the Director of the Division of Public Health. “Delaware CAN will ensure women can access all contraceptive methods they want, including the most effective methods.”
Delaware CAN has received media coverage on NPR, the Associated Press, and in the Delaware News Journal: “Markell: Women will have better access to birth control.” You can watch Governor Markell’s State of the State address here (his remarks on Delaware CAN begin at 41:00):