If I were to tell you that there was a program that helped women get the most effective forms of birth control and had reduced the teen birth rate by nearly 40% in four years, you’d probably say, “This is amazing, tell me more.” If I told you that for every dollar invested in this program, the state had saved $5.85 in Medicaid costs, you might say, “You can’t argue with that math.” And if I told you that there was has an opportunity to continue this fantastic work, you’d probably say, “That’s a no-brainer, they should keep doing it.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be a no-brainer for some members of the Colorado state legislature.
The state legislature is currently debating whether it should fund the Department of Public Health and Environment to continue the Colorado Family Planning Initiative. The program, which helps women get access to long-acting reversible birth control (LARCs,) was started in 2009 with funding from a private donor. The funding ends in June. The program’s impact on the state cannot be overstated. There have been reductions in: unintended pregnancy; abortion rates; numbers of infants needing nutrition support; and, Medicaid spending on births. Women, children, families, and the state budget all benefitted from this program, so why is there any debate?
There shouldn’t be. According to the coalition working to ensure this program continues, more than 275,000 women in Colorado still need increased access to contraceptive services. The state legislature should take action now to fund the Colorado Family Planning Initiative and ensure that these women, their families, and the state as a whole can continue to benefit from it.
This blog is authored by Mara Gandal-Powers, Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, and originally ran on Womenstake, NWLC’s blog.