While corporations like Hobby Lobby have been battling to take away women’s choices when it comes to contraception, the Gates Foundation and MicroCHIPS Inc. strive to give women full control over their own reproduction. MicroCHIPS is in the process of developing a contraceptive implant that can be controlled wirelessly and, unlike contraceptive implants like IUD’s, would only need to be replaced every 16 years or so. Even better, the implant can be controlled by the wearer, allowing women, and not their employers, to determine when and how they decide to use their birth control.
Right now, contraceptive implants are not very convenient. They need to be replaced every few years and the only way to stop the hormones from being released by the device is to remove it. It is, in part, this kind of contraceptive that corporations like Hobby Lobby have won the right to deny to their female employees, stripping them of the ability to choose the sort of long-term protection that the IUD provides. But this new implant could provide women, both in the U.S. and around the world, with the next generation of contraception, putting the choice literally in their own hands with a wireless device that could be used to control the implant.
The device would work by implanting a small reservoir of contraceptive hormone called levonogestrel, which would slowly be released into the wearer’s body. The hormone could be stopped and started again as needed with a remote device. MicroCHIPS has already been testing an implant drug delivery system on osteoporosis patients, but the Gates Foundation, along with MIT’s Robert Langer, saw the potential in the system to help address the family planning challenges that many people face, particularly in poorer, developing countries. Right now things are still in the testing phase, but the company could be submitting the device for FDA approval in the not-too-distant future, giving women everywhere the control they deserve.