Colorado’s Family Planning Initiative (CFPI), which offers teenagers and poor women free and low-cost intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants and has significantly reduced the state’s teen pregnancy and abortion rates, may soon disappear.
The CFPI’s private grant is set to run out this year, and Colorado state representatives have eliminated the program’s funding by voting down a bill that would have appropriated $5 million toward the initiative. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is continuing to search for private funding but has not yet received a firm commitment.
“It’s outrageous that, in this day and age, politicians in Colorado voted to dismantle a critical program that is proven to help young women reduce unintended pregnancy and plan for their futures,” Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.
The Initiative resulted in a 40 percent drop in the teen pregnancy rate between 2009 and 2013 and a 42 percent drop in the abortion rate. Birth rates among unmarried women under 25 who did not finish high school also dropped by about the same amount. While teen pregnancy rates have been declining around the country, experts say that these dramatic results are most likely due to the program, which was started six years ago and funded by a private grant. About one-fifth of women ages 18-44 in Colorado now use a long-acting method of birth control, compared to 7 percent nationwide.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) has praised the Initiative, saying that “it has helped thousands of young Colorado women continue their education, pursue their professional goals and postpone pregnancy until they are ready to start a family.”
CFPI has particularly helped women in the poorest areas of the state. The Initiative gives funding to family planning clinics all over the state, resulting in around 30,000 IUDs and implants being offered to low-income young women at little or no cost. Without insurance, an IUD would cost between $500 and $900, preventing many low-income women from accessing this highly-effective, reversible, long-acting form of contraception.
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which seeks to provide free contraception, may ease some of the burden if Colorado’s program were to disappear, the ACA is not as effective. The ACA does not cover all versions of birth control and many women will still have to pay for contraception if their plans predate the ACA.
Media Resources: New York Times 7/5/15; Feminist Newswire 8/12/14; Governor John Hickenlooper Press Release 7/3/14; ThinkProgress 4/30/15; Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment Press Release 7/1/15