Time magazine investigation reveals frightening trend in Black reproductive healthcare

The publication’s recent report finds a new form of reproductive control — birth control coercion.

What is long-term birth control, Black reproductive health, Black women reproductive health, birth control coercion, Birth control coercion Time magazine, healthcare discrimination, What is health care discrimination?, medical racism, what is medical racism theGrio.com
Time magazine's recent report finds a new form of reproductive control –– birth control coercion. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

On the heels of Mother’s Day and only weeks after Black Maternal Health Week, Time magazine released a new investigative piece highlighting the grim reality of women’s reproductive health. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022 has shined a new spotlight on reproductive rights, revealing controlling and ongoing industry practices. 

Recently, Time magazine investigated the experiences of women being pressured into long-term birth control. Using a combination of medical studies, patient testimonials, and interviews with reproductive justice experts, advocates, physicians and researchers, the publication discovered how doctors often push women into using long-acting reversible contraception methods — and then refuse to remove them when patients ask. 

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), long-acting reversible contraceptives, also known as LARCs, include highly effective methods like intrauterine devices (IUDs) or birth control implants that can prevent pregnancy over the course of several years and can be removed at any time. While many patients and doctors appreciate the “set it and forget it” nature of LARCs compared to birth control pills or other contraceptive methods, the means and frequency with which medical providers prescribe them to specific demographics have raised some concerns. 

Time reports that “doctors are disproportionately likely to push these contraceptives when treating Black, Latina, young, and low-income women, or to refuse to remove them when requested.” Echoing the results found in multiple research studies, the women Time interviewed shared the ways racism and classism influenced their reproductive healthcare experiences. 

Recommended Stories

“These ideas of who should and shouldn’t have children are still very much influencing our policies and practices, even if it’s more subtle than in the past,” Mieke Eeckhaut, a sociologist at the University of Delaware who studied discrimination in the distribution of LARCs told Time. 

In addition to implicit bias triggered by patients’ race, socioeconomic and marital status, and medical insurance (or lack thereof), the publication’s investigation found that medical providers in states with abortion restrictions are pushing LARCs. While these methods may be prescribed with the intention of protecting women from unwanted pregnancies they can no longer terminate, coercing women into using these methods is another form of reproductive control.  

As previously reported by theGrio, medical racism is one of many reasons why Black people are less likely to go to the doctor. With Black Medicaid users being more likely to experience preventable hospitalizations and Black mothers dying at alarming rates, a lack of trust between Black patients and healthcare providers can be deadly. Beyond discrimination in implementation, resistance to removing LARCs is even more harmful to patients. As Time reports, these implants can sometimes cause extreme discomfort, nausea and sometimes paralyzing pain for women. So, increasing resistance amongst doctors to remove such implants when asked to can fuel a sense of distrust between medical providers and patients, particularly Black patients. 

“I don’t have faith in doctors anymore,” Miannica Frison, who, after being coerced into getting an IUD, had to wait three years before getting her doctor to remove it despite reported discomfort, told Time. “I can’t trust any of them.”

Ultimately, the reproductive health system impacts all birthing people. However, Time’s investigation reinforces and echoes trends seen elsewhere in the medical system and across reproductive healthcare, underlining ongoing issues of access, the devastating impacts of abortion reform, and a historic lack of bodily autonomy for specific demographics. 

Read the full report at Time.com