LARC: Reducing Colorado’s Teenage Pregnancy Rate

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Although teenage pregnancy rates have declined over the last twenty years, teenagers in the US are far more likely to give birth than teenagers in other industrialized countries.

However, between 2009-2013, Colorado decreased the number of teenage births by 40% and the number of abortions by 35%; the Colorado Family Planning Initiative used an anonymous grant to provide free, or reduced-priced, IUD implants to over 30,000 individuals. Despite the fact that this was a substantial drop, GOP lawmakers refused to provide taxpayer dollars to further this program. As a result, state officials are still looking for continued funding.

 

Planned Parenthood (PP) and NARAL Pro-Choice America are two stakeholders that will advocate for additional funding, as their organizations advocate for policies that ensure access to reproductive and complementary healthcare services. These organizations advocate for LARC methods, including the IUD, as they are the most effective forms of reversible birth control and last for years.

The Catholic Church and Colorado Family Action (CFA) are two stakeholders that will advocate against providing funding. CFA opposes state funding as they don’t believe tax dollars should be used to “insert the government between teens and their parents”. The Catholic Church will join CFA in opposing funding on moral grounds, as they oppose any form of birth control other than natural family planning.

Providing IUDs have had a substantial impact on birth and abortion rates for Colorado teenagers; Colorado must take action by working with supportive stakeholders to secure funding to ensure the success of this program. PP, for instance, spent over $1.3 million in 2015 lobbying for various health policies and funding. Their support, in terms of finances and lobbying, for additional funding would be extremely beneficial, as they have the knowledge and experience with how to best advocate for this additional funding.

 

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6 Responses to “LARC: Reducing Colorado’s Teenage Pregnancy Rate”

  1. Emma Says:

    Thank you for sharing this topic with us. It is great to see that IUDs have been so successful in reducing the number of teen pregnancies and abortions in Colorado. As the US today article you cited explains , IUDs are very effective and they can be easier than remembering to take an oral contraceptive every day. I am also glad to see that the informational graphic about IUDs you included in your blog emphasizes that individuals should also use condoms, as IUDs do not protect against STDS.

    I hope funding can be found to continue this program. Teen pregnancy in particular can have a number of negative ramifications for adolescents and their children. For instance, by the time they are in their early 20s, only half of young mothers received a high school diploma. Very few have graduated from a 2 or 4 year college. Their children are also at higher risk to have negative health, developmental, educational, and social ramifications. For instance, they are at higher risk of dropping out of school or being imprisoned during their teen years. (http://youth.gov/youth-topics/teen-pregnancy-prevention/adverse-effects-teen-pregnancy).

  2. mrivera Says:

    This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart as I am a pediatrician working to start a LARC program at our practice due to our increasing teen pregnancy rates. The results they had in Colorado are staggering and very impressive, and it is disappointing that Republican officials do not want to support policy for continued funding for these programs. A large study called the CHOICE study was published out of Washington University in St Louis which showed evidence that increasing access to LARC’s lead to decreased rates of teen pregnancies and teen abortions (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1400506). The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology both recommend LARC’s as first line to decrease teen pregnancies and are excellent advocates and stakeholders as well. I hope funding continues as the success Colorado is being used as a model in many programs and states around the country, because it is known to work!

  3. mcole35 Says:

    Thank you for this post. The LARC Initiative in Colorado provides exceptional evidence for the importance and effectiveness of these contraceptive methods. There is a good deal of research building off of the WashU CHOICE study mentioned above (such as this one: http://www.mdrc.org/project/improving-contraceptive-options-now-icon#overview). Funding is a major institutional barrier to providing LARCs at an affordable cost, if not for free. The US is at a place where most women are supposed to be able to receive oral contraceptives without a co-payment, but the power of LARCs must also be relayed. IUDs have gained major popularity over the last few years after their declined usage in the 80s, but women know less about injectables, also an option worth understanding and funding. As you’ve noted though, if the aim is to reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions, this course of action is absolutely necessary, especially to cover low-income women.

  4. akuhajda Says:

    I agree strongly with this post and its support for LARCs. Intrauterine devices and implants are in particular are safe and well suited for use in younger women, as they are less subject to user error and do not require excessive maintenance. Despite the success of many of there long acting forms of birth control, certain right-wing political parties will undoubtedly raise objections out of fear that improved birth control access will somehow cause teens to become more promiscuous. These states where right-wing political elements have the most control, and where abstinence-only education is implemented, are also the hardest hit by teen pregnancy (http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/publications-a-z/409-the-truth-about-abstinence-only-programs). This reluctance to compromise on any birth-control related issue may prevent funding for LARCs and other birth control access programs and instead divert funding towards more abstinence-based programs, regardless of their effectiveness. Unfortunately, due to the political climate in some parts of the United States, it may be difficult to provide crucial information and services to those who need it the most due to strong divides regarding the morality of birth control.

  5. mayriamroblesgarcia Says:

    Whenever the topic of teenage pregnancy and birth control methods have mentioned the phrase, “Separation of church and state” often follows. A government function is to serve its people thus every one of its components must do so including the health sector, however, it must do so in an unbiased, just and effective way. The government is composed of the people and for the people, the problem lies in the fact that the people many times have different opinions on certain controversial topics such as birth control. When such problems like these present themselves, it is the government job to address the problem in the most efficient and beneficial way to “the people” in as previously mentioned unbiased, just and effective way. In conclusion, LARC has proven its efficiency thus government should act accordingly and continue its use.

  6. yamimbilizi Says:

    Thank you for this article, issues surrounding reproductive health are very important to me. The cost-effectiveness of LARCs reducing maternal morbidity and mortality go unrecognized by government. These methods are safer and more efficacious than the shorter acting methods like the pill or injectables. I am one who believes that prevention is always better than management, and if more resources and funding was directed towards these better contraceptive methods the face of reproductive health for adolescents would be a prettier picture.

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