By Valerie Tarico
When a pilot program in Colorado offered teens state-of-the-art long acting contraceptives—IUD’s and implants—teen births plummeted by 40%, along with a drop in abortions. The program saved the state 42.5 million dollars in a single year, over five times what it cost. But rather than extending or expanding the program, some Colorado Republicans are trying to kill it—even if this stacks the odds against Colorado families. Why? Because they insist, wrongly, that IUD’s work by killing embryos, which they believe are sacred. This claim, which is based in bad faith and scientific ignorance, undermines fiscal prudence and flourishing families.
Excellent Family Planning Transforms Family Life
Research from around the world shows that children and families are more likely to thrive when women are able to delay, space, and limit childbearing. The benefits are enormous: healthier moms and babies, less infant mortality and special needs, more family prosperity, higher education, less domestic conflict and abuse—even lower crime rates. Whole communities gain as women (and men!) become more productive, creating a virtuous economic cycle. Public budgets become easier to balance, and more revenues can be invested into infrastructure instead of basic needs.
Despite mountains of evidence showing that family planning empowers family flourishing, early and unwanted pregnancy has been a tough pattern to change, even in the United States. Until very recently, half of U.S. pregnancies were unintended, with over a third of those ending in abortion. For single women under the age of 30, 70 percent of pregnancies are unintended. For teens that’s more than 80 percent. This pattern has many causes, but part of the problem is antiquated family planning technologies that are highly prone to human error. In any given year, 1 out of 11 couples relying on the Pill will end up with a surprise pregnancy. For couples relying on condoms alone, this rises to 1 out of 6!
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