July 14, 2014

Let's Prevent Abortions Together:
Colorado shows that abortion and contraception go hand in hand

Let me be frank. I support the right of any woman to choose to end a pregnancy for any reason. Period. No caveats from me.

But I also believe, as I'm sure most of us would agree, that if we can prevent pregnancies that aren't wanted in the first place, that's even better.

This week, we have some news out of Colorado that is both buoying and infuriating: a privately funded grant that has offered long-acting reversible contraception to low-income women for the past five years has significantly decreased the state's teen pregnancy rate.

How much did it decrease?

By nearly 40%.

You may recall that I recently profiled Texas, who was proud to see their teen pregnancy rate fall by 40% too.

Of course, theirs fell by 40% over more than 10 years, but who is counting, guys?

Think Progress explains the program:
The Colorado Family Planning Initiative, which has been funded by a private anonymous donor for the past five years, provides long-lasting forms of contraception — like intrauterine devices (IUDs) and birth control implants — to women who may not otherwise be able to afford them. Since 2009, the program has partnered with 68 family planning clinics throughout the state to hand out 30,000 IUDs and implants.
This bears some examination in light of the Hobby Lobby decision. The success of this programs argues for the importance of accurate information about--and easier access to--long-acting reversible contraception.

How successful was the program? Think Progress elucidates:
The infant caseload for Colorado’s Women, Infants and Children program, which provides state support for low-income mothers, dropped 23 percent between 2008 and 2013. And the teen abortion rate fell 35 percent from 2009 to 2012 in the counties that participated in the initiative.
Insurance News explains why this access is so important:
 "Expanded LARC access greatly increases women's ability to avoid unplanned pregnancy," Ricketts says. "By allowing young women to determine for themselves when to start a family, it enables them to confidently pursue their personal, educational and career goals."
 LARCs give women five to fifteen years without having to worry about birth control or unintended pregnancy. What can a woman do with that time? Can she go to college? Get ahead in her job? Buy a house? Put herself in a better position to have children when she wants to?

Can it decrease abortion?

Colorado says that it can.

We also know that when women can control their fertility, significant pressure is taken off of our public services. It decreases the "burden" of social services.

Aren't these things that conservatives want? More secure families, less abortions, less people on the dole...what's not to love here?

This isn't the first time that we have seen these results either. Again from Think Progress:
This isn’t the first piece of evidence that providing women with affordable access to the IUD, which is the most effective form of birth control, has a positive impact on public health. A large 2012 study focusing on low-income women in St. Louis found that when they were given the choice between the full range of birth control methods without being charged a co-pay — essentially, the same policy at the heart of Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate — more of them started using IUDs. After that, fewer of them experienced unintended pregnancies and fewer of them got abortions.
The importance of leaving behind superstitious belief, and understanding the implications of science, is crucial. For women's rights to move forward--for our society to achieve its full potential--access to contraception can't be a luxury. It must be a right.

There can be no exceptions, no waivers.

Colorado shows us that the way forward is with birth control--not without it.

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