Extreme heat is making it harder to control when and whether to become pregnant by potentially limiting access to effective contraception, The 19th* reports. Condoms and emergency contraception pills (as well as pregnancy tests) can be damaged and rendered ineffective by extreme heat, and the already-high stakes involved are raised even higher in states that have cracked down on abortion care in the wake of the Supreme Court conservative supermajority’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health last year.
Condoms can be damaged by 122°F heat, or if stored above 104°F for an extended period of time and emergency contraception should be transported at temperatures no higher than 86°F. That’s especially dangerous in Texas with its six-week abortion ban.
“One thing we’ve always stressed is do not keep [reproductive health] kits in your car, especially in Texas heat,” Graci D’Amore, of the Texas group Jane’s Due Process, told The 19th*. “It’s 120 degrees in the car, and Plan B needs to be kept at below 80 degrees for it to maintain efficacy.”
Texas’ electrical grid, strained by this summer’s extreme heat, is also complicating matters. “The fear and threat of the [power] grid failing — I think it’s on everyone’s mind,” D’Amore added. (The 19th*, Texas heat: Washington Post $; Texas grid: CBS, Houston Chronicle; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves)