Company donates emergency contraception pills to Grace Healthcare Services in Gainesville
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A nonprofit helping homeless people in North Central Florida is receiving hundreds of emergency contraception pills from a pharmaceutical company as part of a nationwide donation.
Julie, a healthcare company based in New York, is donating 300 emergency contraception pills, commonly known as morning-after pills, to Grace Healthcare Services which operates the clinic in Grace Marketplace, a homeless shelter in Gainesville.
The pills are part of a nationwide donation of more than 200,000 units to more than 20 community organizations in the United States. For every Julie pill the company sells, they are donating a pill. The medication is sold at Walmart stores nationwide.
“Our impact program isn’t just about donation, it’s about activating in these communities where it is really important to show up and say it is absolutely okay to take emergency contraception,” said Amanda Morison, Julie co-founder and president. “And that is what we are doing. We have found some incredible partners to do it. Our hope is to change the face and narrative of women’s health in the United States.”
The shipments are being sent to community health clinics, domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, sexual assault prevention organizations, and mobile clinics. Grace Healthcare Services Executive Director Lorry Davis says donations like this keep their clinic open.
“We are totally dependant on donations and grants, all of our services, and all of our medicines,” said Davis. “We say Grace Pharmacy is the pharmacy without a cash register. People come to our clinic they are never charged a penny.”
Morison says millions of women live in contraception deserts. They highlight the need for emergency contraception following the overturning of Roe v. Wade which now allows states to restrict abortions.
“For us, we think of emergency contraception as one more tool in your pregnancy prevention toolkit. If we are giving access to condoms, to pregnancy tests, we also need to make sure people have access to emergency contraception. If you do not want to be pregnant you should have access to the tool that’ll make sure that is possible,” said Morison.
Davis says many of the women who go to low-barrier homeless shelters are victims of sexual assault and the clinic in Gainesville offers many resources to those women.
“The women’s clinic at Grace is run by the Alachua area medical reserve corps, it’s the second and fourth Mondays of each month. It is done in conjunction with the Alachua Area Victims Services or rape crisis. So, we have an advocate for that, a counselor for that during those times as well,” said Davis.
The nurse practitioners at the clinic explain all contraceptive options to the patient. The type of contraceptive they receive is whatever they choose based on what stock the pharmacy has available. The clinic offers care to people who stay at Grace Marketplace and people who don’t reside at the shelter.
“You know there are a number of people who come to Grace Marketplace who are not sheltered,” said Davis. “They don’t reside there, they don’t have a bed there, but they get services. We provide a lot of services to people who don’t have housing.”
The company is making donations on a quarterly basis. Grace representatives will be able to reach out to Julie next quarter for another donation. Company representatives say this week’s donations make Julie the largest donor of emergency contraception in the country.
Levonorgestrel is the FDA-approved medication used in the product. It is a progestin-only emergency contraceptive that helps prevent pregnancy by temporarily delaying or stopping ovulation. Company representatives clarify the pill is neither a form of birth control nor an abortion pill; rather, it helps the body stop a pregnancy before it starts and is most effective when taken within 72 hours after sexual intercourse.
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