Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How to reduce abortion? Contraception, Colorado demonstrates

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 9:31 AM

The Arkansas legislature busied itself with what's been described as the most anti-abortion legislation in the country this year. But did it do anything meaningful to reduce the need for abortion? No and it even defunded a program that provided family planning for poor people.

So read this in the New York Times for what you might call a supply side solution on abortion:

Over the past six years, Colorado has conducted one of the largest experiments with long-acting birth control. If teenagers and poor women were offered free intrauterine devices and implants that prevent pregnancy for years, state officials asked, would those women choose them?

They did in a big way, and the results were startling. The birthrate among teenagers across the state plunged by 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell by 42 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. There was a similar decline in births for another group particularly vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies: unmarried women under 25 who have not finished high school.

I have inquiries in to the Health Department and the Department of Human Services on family planning services on offer here, but they don't enjoy much support among Republican legislators.

You know what Mike Huckabee said. When Uncle Sugar provides free contraception, women turn into sex machines.

The program in Colorado apparently had particularly dramatic impact in the poorest areas of the state. Young women are responding.

By 2014, half of first births did not occur until the women had turned 24, a difference that advocates say gives young women time to finish their educations and to gain a foothold in an increasingly competitive job market.

So before the legislature adds on still more anti-abortion legislation the next time it meets, you think maybe they could think about reducing unplanned pregnancies by encouraging free, long-lasting birth control?

UPDATE: The Department of Human Services once provided family planning services to women at or below the poverty level. It dropped that program when the state adopted the private option version of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Amy Webb of DHS said contraceptive services, both short acting and long-acting prescriptions and implants remain available to those eligible. Also, she said a Health Department program is still available to those enrolled in the private option. The Health Department provides contraception through its 94 community clinics on a sliding fee scale according to ability to pay and will provide services to those with insurance. The choices range from pills to longer term options such as IUDs and implants. Pills are most popular — used by more than 22,000 in 2012, the most recent year available, versus 2,850 IUDs and 156 implants. Long-term options cost more, but prove most cost-effective because of reliability. Would a push for broader, lower cost use of long-term devices reduce pregnancies and thus abortions? What do you think?

UPDATE II: And check this out. Conservative Colorado legislators have managed to successfully defund this successful program.

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