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Report: Unintended Pregnancies Fall Sharply In Colorado Thanks to Long Acting Birth Control

An IUD can protect women from pregnancy for more than five years.

The teen pregnancy rate in the United States has been in decline for years-- but it’s dramatically decreased in Colorado. That’s mostly due to the availability of long acting and reversible birth control options, says a new report.

Colorado received a private donation from the Susan Buffet Foundation in 2008 to provide IUDs and birth control implants to women at low or no cost. Since then, the state’s teen birth and abortion rates have dropped by 50 percent.

Jody Camp is the chair of the State Family Planning Administrators. She says they expected this program to be good for Colorado women and families, but a report shows it’s also helped the state avoid spending nearly $70 million on other public support programs. The original donation was reportedly around $23 million.

“For the first time in family planning history here in Colorado we were able to show just a snippet of the true cost avoidance to a prevention program,” Camp says. “We invested upstream and we were able to see how much costs were avoided downstream.”

Economist looked at four programs from 2010 to 2014: Medicaid, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and the food assistance programs SNAP and WIC. Because those unintended pregnancies did not happen, they concluded the state avoided spending between $66.1 and $69.6 million on those programs.

“These long acting reversible contraceptive devices have really been a game changer,” Camp says.

Instead of taking a pill once a day, or getting a shot every few months, an IUD or implant can provide protection for anywhere between three and 12 years.

“We know just from research that the longer a family can delay or time their pregnancies or starting their families, the more economically self-sufficient they will become,” she says.

The program gets financial support from communities across Colorado and from the state legislature. According to Camp, that ensures the program can sustain its services.

She says the state also receives federal money via a Title X grant. It has provided about $3.6 million a year, but that grant was just cut from three years down to one.

Camp says they were told to expect an announcement about the continuation of Title X funding in September. No such announcement has yet been made.

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