Colorado launched a health initiative a few years ago with a specific target: reducing teen-birth rates. To that end, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) implemented a program that provided tens of thousands of contraceptive devices at low or no cost.
The results were amazing: teen-birth rates dropped 40% in just five years. This week, the state even won an award from the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, celebrating Colorado’s success story.
Ironically, the award came the same week Colorado Republicans chose to scrap the effective policy.
Republicans on a Colorado Senate committee Wednesday killed an effort to set aside money for a birth-control program that provides intrauterine devices, or IUDs, to low-income, young women. […]The legislation would have provided $5 million to expand the Colorado Family Planning Initiative program that health officials say lowered the teen birth rate in Colorado by an impressive 40 percent.
As one local report noted, “Opponents of the bill worried that increasing access to birth control would not have a net public health gain because it would increase promiscuity.” One GOP lawmaker accused the policy of “subsidizing sex.” Another said of the program, “Does that allow a lot of young women to go out there and look for love in all the wrong places?”
The amazing thing to remember here is that Colorado wasn’t talking about experimenting with a new policy measure; state lawmakers were considering whether to keep an existing policy in place. That’s important because, in this case, Colorado already knows the program was working.
In other words, Republican critics of the idea raised concerns that the policy might fail – which might be a credible point were it not for the fact that the policy has been in place for five years, offering real-world proof that those concerns are unfounded.
I half expected to find quotes from GOP lawmakers saying, “Sure, the idea works in practice, but does it work in theory?”
Colorado’s state House has a Democratic majority, while the state Senate has a Republican majority. In this case, both chambers had to approve funding for the birth-control program to continue, and this week, the GOP-led chamber voted it down.
This is consistent with the posture adopted by some high-profile Colorado Republicans. Cory Gardner (R) has spent much of his political career opposing contraception access, and Coloradans nevertheless elected him to the U.S. Senate last year. At the same time, former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R) falsely claimed last year that IUD contraceptives are “abortifacients,” not long before narrowly losing Colorado’s gubernatorial race.
The more the fight over contraception access seems like a thing of the past, the more we’re reminded it’s not.