Here’s a crazy idea, help women avoid unwanted pregnancies and they’re more likely to not get pregnant, to finish high school and college, they won’t need controversial abortions and the state will save millions! That exactly what happened in a 6 year long, privately funded, program in Colorado.
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.”
In 2009, half of all first births to women in the poorest areas of the state happened before they turned 21. By 2014, half of first births did not occur until the women had turned 24, a difference that advocates say gives young women time to finish their educations and to gain a foothold in an increasingly competitive job market.
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.
Why would anyone stop this program? Well an all-male Senate committee voted Wednesday night to offer a financial bridge, because they’re worried about how this program promotes promiscuity. Seriously. If they think this is a gateway to more sex what’s the alternative, teaching a teenager a lesson by saddling her with the responsibility of raising a child she’s not ready for and will likely be dependent on the state for some time if not forever because of that choice? Is this rational thinking at work?
With more than half a million American children in a broken Foster Care system, we need realistic solutions for these serious problems.
In Seattle there’s a backlash against schools offering birth control to students without parents permission. It is logical that parents may want to have “the conversation” with their children before they engage in sexual activity. But logic would also dictate that if they have a relationship where they can talk to their parents they still will, but for those who don’t have that level of comfort with their parents they’re protected too. Again, what’s the alternative, “Hey mom, I know you don’t approve of me having sex, but I did and I couldn’t get birth control without your permission, so now I’m pregnant and planning on dropping out of school or having an abortion. Let’s talk about it.” Let’s think these issue through, to the end, to the conclusion that looks at what the impact and result really looks like for these kids.