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Colorado's Family Planning Drives Decline in Unintended Pregnancy

Women who have children as teens are less likely to graduate from high school, or earn as much as women who have children later in life. (Pixabay)
Women who have children as teens are less likely to graduate from high school, or earn as much as women who have children later in life. (Pixabay)
January 3, 2018

DENVER – Colorado's teen pregnancy and abortion rates continue to drop thanks to a state family planning program.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the initiative saved taxpayers almost $70 million between 2009 and 2015.

Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, notes that during that timespan teen pregnancies have been cut by half and abortion rates are down by two-thirds.

"We continue to see increasing uses of contraception and decreased unintended pregnancy, both with first pregnancies and any additional teen pregnancies in the same families," she states.

Middleton says empowering women with resources and the ability to decide for themselves when to have children translates into fewer state and federal dollars spent on health care, food and other assistance to low-income women and their infants.

In 2013, more than 20 million women in the U.S., most of them living in poverty, turned to public programs for access to reproductive health care.

Middleton says she's hopeful Colorado's model will be adopted by other states struggling with high rates of teen pregnancy and abortion.

IUDs can cost between $500 and $1,000 each, but Middleton argues that Colorado's upfront investment in making them available to teens has paid off.

"The pediatricians and the OB-GYNs really flipped the script, and realized that using some of these longer acting and reversible methods were a great way to help young women avoid unintended pregnancy until they're really ready to plan a family," she points out.

Unintended pregnancy also brings unintended consequences.

Colorado's Department of Public Health and Environment warns that those children are more likely to experience abuse, poor health and educational challenges.

And teen mothers are also less likely to get a high school diploma or earn as much as women who wait to have children.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO