Thursday, July 14, 2016

Colorado's Free Birth Control Experiment Results in Decrease of Unintended Pregnancies and Abortion

Bustle (July 7, 2016): Colorado's Birth Control Experiment Proves the Whole Country Needs Free BC, by S.E. Smith: 

A Colorado program providing free birth control from 2008-2014 illustrates how access to contraception can decrease unintended pregnancy and abortion.  Researchers looking at the program's impacts also noted positive outcomes for low income women who were able to delay pregnancy and purse education and professional training.  Despite, these successes, the program, which used private funding, hit roadblocks when public bridge funding was sought.

Colorado's program lasted for six years, giving us all a long look at what happens when you start providing free long-lasting birth control to teens and young adults. Using private funding, the program offered training to clinics along with supplies, and the results were clear: According to a study published in October 2014, unintended pregnancies dropped in the state by 40 percent from 2009-2013, and abortion fell by 42 percent over the same period. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when bridge funding to keep it going came up for a vote in May, Colorado Republicans succeeded in shooting it down, leaving the program in peril.

Although free birth control saved Colorado millions in health care costs for unintended pregnancies, the program was opposed by legislators concerned that providing free contraceptives will promote promiscuity. However, Smith argues that access to sex education and contraceptives does not lead teens to have more sex.

This assumption [that access to contraception encourages sex] flies in the face of the facts, of course: Studies on sexual education demonstrate that well-informed teens often choose to have sex later than teens who don't receive comprehensive sexual education. The same holds true for birth control — a 2014 study showed that teens with access to free birth control tend to have fewer partners and to engage in sexual activity less frequently than teens without access.

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