Colorado Republicans Refuse to Fund Free IUDs for Teens


Hey, remember that subsidized-IUDs-for-teens program in Colorado? The one that many credit with dramatically reducing the teen pregnancy rate? Well, an attempt to get it state funding just bit the dust in a Republican-controlled state legislature committee. Of course! Because who gives a shit about actually reducing teen pregnancy rates when you can opt for willful blindness and a Victorian insistence that teens should all be upright little paragons and if they slip for even a moment they should pay the consequences!

Colorado’s teen birth rate dropped an astounding 40 percent between 2009 and 2013, and last year state officials credited the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, which distributed free IUDs and other forms of long-acting reversible contraception to low-income women. Wow! A government initiative actually achieving something! Amazing! But you see, the program was funded for just five years by a donor, as a sort of proof-of-concept, and now the state legislature needs to pony up some cash. You won’t believe what happened next!!!!

Vox reports:

An anonymous donor had previously funded the program, but Democrats in the Colorado Senate added $5 million to the state budget to keep the program going in the future. That effort died in a Republican-controlled state Senate committee late last week, putting the program in peril.
As the Denver Post reported, the IUD program in Colorado “faced resistance from fiscal hawks who consider the spending redundant and social conservatives who believe IUDs cause abortions, a point rejected by the medical community.”

Because really, what does the medical community know about the human body? JACK SHIT, THAT’S WHAT. (The National Journal has a lengthy piece on the opposition to the program, which is very much worth reading.) Much of the opposition has focused on the fact that Obamacare already requires insurers to cover contraception, but, two things: 1) Grown-ass working women with years of experience in paperwork hassles currently have trouble getting what they want out of their insurers and 2) teens’ insurance is generally tied up with their parents, and if every teen could just talk to their parents about contraception in the first place, well, then we’d probably live in a teen-pregnancy-free utopia already, now wouldn’t we?

Hell, the attempt to get this program funded even had a Republican co-sponsor. The Denver Post reports:

Republican state Rep. Don Coram of Montrose opposes abortion, but he agreed to co-sponsor the bill with Becker after seeing the emotional and financial toll of teen pregnancy in his community and the nation. For every dollar put into the program, he says, citing a state study, it avoids an estimated $5.85 in the state’s Medicaid program over a three-year period.
A teenage unintended pregnancy “sets them up in a cycle of poverty. Eighty percent of them will be on welfare within a year. Many will drop out of school,” he says.

And now it looks like the bill is pretty much toast.

Meanwhile public health officials are determined to go out there and get the money for this program even if they have to toss every damn couch in Denver for spare quarters. Said Colorado Public Health Department executive director Larry Wolk: “We are going to go out and see if we can raise the money through private foundations,” adding that, “We’re going to pull together a group of interested supporters in the next month and see what we can do.”

God knows how much money that $5 million would save Colorado in the long run. But hey, why let a little thing like logic drive policymaking?

Photo via Shutterstock/Image Point Fr.

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