Colorado’s birth control experiment works, needs funding


The Appalachian Online


The state of Colorado has been in the news often in the past several years, mostly for its legalization of marijuana. However, this article is instead about Colorado’s other progressive initiative – its birth control experiment.

Starting in 2009, this experiment funded by a private grant from the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (named for the late wife of Warren Buffett), gave free and reduced price IUDs and implantable birth control to more than 30,000 women.

These forms of birth control are much more reliable than others, with the CDC stating that they have a less than 1 percent failure rate, a feat matched only by vasectomies and hysterectomies, while condoms and birth control pills have an 18 percent and a nine percent failure rate, respectively.

And yes, while abstinence does have a zero percent failure rate, it’s unrealistic to believe that young adults won’t have sex. Around 47 percent of adolescents and young adults have had sexual intercourse, according to the CDC.

Of this portion of the adolescent population, 41 percent reported that they did not use condoms or birth control the last time that they had sex.

In 2014 alone, almost 250,000 young women ages 15-19 became pregnant. This roughly equates to 24 births per 1,000 young women.

To put this in perspective, that’s nearly 250,000 young women who had to put their lives on hold, to put their dreams and aspirations on the back burner for a child they neither needed, nor wanted in most cases.

In order to combat this, Colorado launched this experiment and has seen a large amount of success. From the time that they began the experiment to now, the teen pregnancy rate has dropped 40 percent, and the teen abortion rate has dropped 41 percent.

The only issue with Colorado’s birth control experiment is that it has run out of its initial funding after six years of operations.

The people who were operating the experiment went to lawmakers for more funding. However, Republican state lawmakers have refused this request. They believe that the idea of long-lasting birth control sends the wrong message and that teens should be taught to not have sex.

For now, the program has been running on various smaller private grants, however, it needs more to continue. More states should adopt programs like this, primarily as a matter of making sure their teens are protected.

Russell, a freshman Journalism major from Charlotte, is an opinion writer.