Thunderdome 2015: Teen-pregnancy science vs. confusion

“Thunderdome 2015” is The Colorado Independent’s wrap-up series on the 2015 legislative season. For a series overview, check out “Thunderdome 2015: 120 days under the gold dome.”

Between 2007 and 2012, Colorado was home to an amazing public-health science experiment. A program called the Colorado Family Planning Initiative provided free IUD contraception to low-income teens through roughly 70 clinics across the state.

Guess what happened?

Teen births declined 40 percent, an almost unimaginably successful result.

The program was privately funded with $5 million for those first five years. The idea was to demonstrate the program could work to address a major health-sociological-economic problem and then let the state take over funding it as a slam-dunk good public policy that more than pays for itself.

The Pew foundation reported that Colorado benefited from an “average return of $5.85 in avoided Medicaid costs for prenatal, delivery and first year of infant care for every $1 spent on the program.”

Alas, as the Denver Post reported, the program “faced resistance from fiscal hawks who consider the spending redundant and social conservatives who believe IUDs cause abortions, a point rejected by the medical community.”

The bill proposing to refund the program failed.

To recap: The program was opposed by fiscal hawks who either didn’t take the time or didn’t want to understand the economics tied to teen pregnancy. And it was opposed by anti-abortion people who either didn’t take the time or didn’t want to understand (a) the science of IUDs, which prevent fertilization, and (b) that preventing fertilization among teens is probably the very best possible way to limit abortions.


Read “Thunderdome 2015: 120 days under the gold dome,” for the rest of the series. 

Photo Credit: Liz Henry, Creative Commons, Flickr