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One of the standard tropes of the modern conservative movement is the undesirability of abortion and bemoaning the teen pregnancy rate, it’s right there in their most recent platform.
One would think then Colorado would be a case study cited widely and proudly by conservative activists. In the last six years it has decreased teen pregnancy by 42%, decreased teen abortion by 35%, and decreased the abortion rate for the general population by a staggering 48%. Additionally, the state’s health department estimated that for every dollar spent on this new program it saved over 5 and a half dollars in future Medicaid spending. A program that reduces abortions nearly in half, cuts the teen pregnancy rate nearly in half, and reduces medicaid spending should get significant support from social and fiscal conservatives alike? Did I mention it was entirely funded by a wealthy donor and not the government? Why aren’t they shouting this program from the rooftops?
Because the program provided free contraception, including long term contraception like IUDs. While the folks running the program made statements like these:
The changes were particularly pronounced in the poorest areas of the state, places like Walsenburg, a small city in Southern Colorado where jobs are scarce and unplanned births come often to the young.
“If we want to reduce poverty, one of the simplest, fastest and cheapest things we could do would be to make sure that as few people as possible become parents before they actually want to,” said Isabel Sawhill, an economist at the Brookings Institution. She argues in her 2014 book, “Generation Unbound: Drifting Into Sex and Parenthood Without Marriage,” that single parenthood is a principal driver of inequality and long-acting birth control a powerful tool to prevent it.
Yet, according to the Washington Post, the leading pro-life and pro-family values activists are having none of it.
arrie Gordon Earll, senior director of public policy for the conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family, told the Denver Post she was skeptical of the state’s claim that increased access to contraception caused the decline in birthrates. “What we have seen over many years is that access to contraception does not equal fewer unintended pregnancies and fewer abortions,” Earll said. “Availability of contraception leads to increased sexual activity, which leads to unintended pregnancies and abortions.”
Bob Enyart, a spokesman for Colorado Right to Life, told the BBC offering contraception to teens sends the message that you can “have all the sex you want.”
“When you teach children that they’re animals — that they have evolved from pigs and dogs and apes — then they act like animals,” Enyart said.
Both use anecdotes and assumptions and simply deny that the data is real when they are confronted with it. Neither of them even bothers to produce counter factual data that demonstrates their facts are correct. It is policy driven by blind faith and ideology, rather than policy driven by the data. This is the major reason why, though I strongly personally oppose abortion, I could never ally with folks like this.
Expanding contraception is quite simply the easiest, safest,and most cost effective way to reduce abortion. Outside of the Roman Catholic church, whose faithful have simply rejected the teaching, no other major organized religion including most evangelical denominations oppose expanding access to contraception. If you truly wanted to make abortion a part of history or a choice utilized by the fewest women possible, you would back universal contraception and reproductive healthcare fully funded by taxpayer dollars. As this study decisively shows, this actually saves the state five dollars on the dollar in future projected healthcare spending. It not only defies the data, it defies common sense. When mama grizzly can’t stop her baby from making babies, it’s high time to close the door on abstinence only and embrace common sense.