It's a simple notion: Give low-income teens access to free birth control, IUDs and family planning services, and chances are they'll be less likely to get pregnant, less likely to have an abortion, and less likely to give birth and then drop out of school.
That's what a pilot program under House Bill 15-1194, the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, sought to do. Launched in 2009, it's been credited with helping to reduce teen pregnancy and drop-out rates. The bill has gained so much traction that the state is working to expand it with HB1079.
Republican Rep. Don Coram co-sponsored HB1079. He spoke to the success of HB15-1194 in the three Colorado counties where the pilot program was made available in designated clinics.
"It teaches abstinence, but that doesn't always work so we're also teaching [teen] things they are not learning anywhere else on how to prevent pregnancies and helping those that actually do become pregnant," Coram told KVNF.
So far, the results speak for themselves.
"According to state estimates, teen abortion rates have dropped by 35 percent from 2009 to 2012 and the government found that young women served by these clinics accounted for three-fourths of the overall decline in Colorado's teen birth rate," the website Attn reports.
An added bonus of the state's effort to expand birth control access to teens is how it's gotten support on both sides of the political divide.
A July 2014 statement released by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said that, "The Colorado Family Planning Initiative has provided more than 30,000 intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants at low or no cost to low-income women at 68 family planning clinics across Colorado since 2009. The decline in births among young women served by these agencies accounted for three-quarters of the overall decline in the Colorado teen birth rate."
A member of the GOP, Coram—the aforementioned co-sponsor of HB1079—attempted to quiet conservatives who claim the bill runs counter to their party's anti-abortion stance.
"The copper IUD also works as a spermicide," Coram told KVNF. "If you don't have a fertilized egg it certainly is not something that's going to cause an abortion."