Colorado Gave Free IUDs To Teens And Poor Women, And It Looks Like The Program Was A Smashing Success

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iud birth controlIn 2009, Colorado started a major push to hand out free IUDs to teenagers and poor women, and it turns out the program has been a phenomenal success beyond even what anyone expected. Since 2009, teen pregnancy rates in Colorado have dropped 40 percent, and the number of teenagers getting abortions in Colorado dropped by 42 percent. And according to the New York Times, unmarried women under 25 who had not finished high school saw a similar decrease in pregnancy rates.

That has been an amazing success, and advocates say the Colorado program is exactly the sort of thing that can make real progress in the fight against poverty and income inequality. Turns out preventing unwanted pregnancy lets young women finish school and start careers and make better futures for themselves, and giving them safe, effective, long-term contraception is a much better way to do that than just hauling them in front of a classroom and talking about abstinence and Jesus for an hour.

Unfortunately, rather than being expanded across the world and celebrated with a big damn parade, Colorado’s revolutionary program is in jeopardy. Colorado’s program was funded by a grant from the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, but that is running out. Long-acting birth control devices can cost $800-$1,000, and some insurance plans won’t cover it. Also, some teens are expected to be reticent to ask for IUDs from their parents’ insurance.

Colorado tried to get more funding for the program through the State Assembly, but that did not make it through even though State Representative Don Coram, a Republican, pointed out that it saved Colorado a ton of money.

“For every dollar that we spent on this, we averted spending $5.85 on social services, on welfare, on hospitalizations. It was just a huge, huge savings,” he told NPR.

A massive drop in teen pregnancy and abortion, and a huge financial savings for the government? I’m pretty sure that’s what we call a win-win. Colorado’s success should be proof to everyone that women, especially young women and poor women, need access to safe, free, reliable birth control, including long-term options like IUDs.

(Photo: Shutterstock)