House Dems have a ‘plan B’ for state-funded birth control program

Colorado Senate Republicans are likely to defeat a bill to direct $5 million toward giving low-income women free, long-acting, reversible birth control like intrauterine devices. Even if the bill fails, House Democrats are working to include an amendment in the state budget to pay for the program.

Several Democratic lawmakers raised concern about the amendment, saying they supported the bill but didn’t think it was fair for a measure to get “two shots at the money.” A hubbub erupted as lawmakers vying for their own projects in the state budget began to eye the $5 million set aside for long acting birth control.

“Members, we need this amendment. This is a priority for the caucus.” said Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, silencing the room in which Dems were debating the budget. “I think all of you want to see the bill pass. This is belt and suspenders. In case the bill doesn’t pass, we need the appropriation, and the appropriation is probably all we need.”

The public health department already offers free family planning services for low-income women paid for by private funds, pointed out the bill sponsor Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder. The department just needs the money, not permission.

Like the bill itself, Becker’s amendment had bipartisan support from co-sponsor Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose.

Despite the fact that the teen pregnancy prevention program the bill would fund has already triggered a 40 percent reduction in teen birth rates, even moderate Republicans in the Senate have been public about their opposition to the family planning program, saying that funding birth control shouldn’t be a state measure and that the Affordable Care Act already covers contraception.

IUD x-ray via Wikicommons