The New York Times writes up Colorado's hugely successful effort—funded by a private grant—to combat unplanned pregnancies in that state:
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. “Our demographer came into my office with a chart and said, ‘Greta, look at this, we’ve never seen this before,’ ” said Greta Klingler, the family planning supervisor for the public health department. “The numbers were plummeting.”
The changes were particularly pronounced in the poorest areas of the state, places like Walsenburg, a small city in southern Colorado where jobs are scarce and many young women have unplanned pregnancies.
A grant from the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation funded the effort but it is expiring and there are concerns that rates of unplanned pregnancy and abortion will spike once the funds run out. The NYT unpacks one contributing risk factor in minute detail: flaws in the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. NYT:
But the experiment in Colorado is entering an uncertain new phase that will test a central promise of the Affordable Care Act: free contraception. The private grant that funds the state program has started to run out, and while many young women are expected to be covered under the health care law, some plans have required payment or offered only certain methods, problems the Obama administration is trying to correct. What is more, only new plans must provide free contraception, so women on plans that predate the law may not qualify. (In 2014, about a quarter of people covered through their employers were on grandfathered plans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.) Advocates also worry that teenagers—who can get the devices at clinics confidentially—may be less likely to get the devices through their parents’ insurance. Long-acting devices can cost between $800 and $900.
But the paper glosses over another risk factor: Republican opposition to funding the program. This is what the NYT says...
The state failed to get additional funding through the General Assembly this spring, a shortfall Ms. Klingler said would slow, but not stop, its progress.
...but this is what actually happened:
A senate committee killed a bill, in a 3-2 party-line vote, that would have provided $5 million to the Colorado Family Planning Initiative program. The program, which was previously funded by a private donor, offered free or reduced-cost intrauterine devices (IUDs) and other long-lasting contraceptives to teenagers.... At the first house hearing on the measure, Rep. Kathleen Conti (R-Littleton) asked, “Are we communicating anything in that message [of providing contraception] that says ‘you don’t have to worry, you’re covered’? Does that allow a lot of young ladies to go out there and look for love in all the wrong places, as the old song goes?” Over the course of the legislative session, Republicans repeatedly slammed the legislation, saying erroneously that IUDs “stop a small child from implanting” and that teenagers can already get desired contraceptives under the federal Affordable Care Act.
It wasn't the Colorado's General Assembly that failed to secure the funding. Republicans in the General Assembly blocked the funding—while claiming the program was redundant since the ACA would provide the "desired contraceptives" to teenagers. That's a lie, as the NYT points out today, just as it's a lie that IUDs "stop a small child from implanting." The NYT was happy to point out flaws in the ACA in covering this story±—and they were right to point out those flaws and we are going to have to wait for Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress before we can address them—but the NYT glossed over the flawed arguments employed by Republicans in their successful effort to kill a program that dramatically cuts both the abortion rate and the teen pregnancy rate.
The actions of Colorado Republicans demonstrate, yet again, that it's not abortion the GOP hates or teen pregnancy. It's "consequence-free" sex. As I wrote earlier this year when the Colorado Republicans blocked funding for this program...
drive up the abortion rate andhappily kill all the babies if doing so will stop people—young people, poor people, unmarried people, gay people—from enjoying "consequence-free sex." Because it's sex that they hate. It's sex for pleasure that they hate. They hate that kind of sex more than they hate abortion, teen moms, and welfare spending combined. Knowing that some people are having sex for pleasure without having their futures disrupted by an unplanned pregnancy or having their health compromised by a sexually transmitted infection or having to run through a traumatizing gauntlet of shrieking "sidewalk counselors" to get to an abortion clinic keeps them up at night.
That's a big part of this story. I'm mystified by the NYT's failure to include it.