A state-run program in Colorado that is credited with reducing teen pregnancy and abortion rates is now in jeopardy because GOP lawmakers declined to allocate taxpayer money to support it, USA Today reports.
The Colorado Family Planning Initiative, which began in 2009 with an anonymous private grant, provided free or reduced-price IUDs to more than 30,000 women. Between 2009 and 2013, the state experienced a 40% drop in teen pregnancy and a 35% drop in abortions.
State officials also said the program ultimately saved taxpayers $80 million in Medicaid costs that would have gone toward new mothers and their children.
However, critics of funding the program using government money noted that teen pregnancy and abortion rates are falling all across the nation. Some opponents, like the organization Colorado Family Action, also said the IUDs did not help teens understand the "risks that come with sexual activities."
Q: Do you think Colorado should fund the program? Why or why not?
Lower teen pregnancy and abortion rates are certainly good things, as are savings in Medicaid costs. I'm pretty sure God Himself is most interested in the first two of those benefits. Of course, how we try to accomplish good things is often as important a matter as actually accomplishing them. The ends don't justify the means, and inferior solutions, however well-intended (or funded) often introduce unwanted, unpleasant side effects.
God's standards for sexuality are perfect, and they come with no substantial unpleasantries. Abstinence before marriage and faithfulness within marriage are the only foolproof methods of avoiding teen pregnancies and abortions. And of course, his standard of marriage has always been the union of one man and one woman. And yes, it may not feel pleasant to put off strong sexual desires. But isn't delaying gratification for the sake of a greater, later benefit one of the hallmarks of maturity? And isn't waiting until marriage better than a lifetime of regret because of disease, or the guilt of having had an abortion?
The IUDs may prevent pregnancy, but they don't prevent sexually transmitted diseases. These days unprotected sex with multiple partners is downright dangerous. It's "Russian roulette" hopped up on hormones. By removing the threat of pregnancy can't we say that this program is taking away one of the barriers that guards teens against STDs?
I also wonder about the rights of parents in these programs. Parents rightfully have authority over their children's medical decisions and treatments. These teens, though capable of bearing children, are nevertheless still children themselves. Are parents consulted at all during the offer to implant the IUDs? Has the state become a greater authority in the child's life than the parents?
When I take all of these things into consideration I conclude that neither Colorado nor any other state should fund such programs. Let us turn to God, and not to the state, to find the best ways for ourselves and our children.
Pastor Jon Barta
The state of Colorado should definitely fund the initiative. Conservative GOP lawmakers mean well, and they certainly don't want to encourage young people to have sex out of marriage. But the problem is, people, and young people especially, are going to get together sexually! No, as a minister, I don't think they should, but in the real world they do. So since it is a given that young people are going to get together in the bedroom, I think it's the responsibility of those in politics to give those sexually active young people the tools to protect themselves. And as Republicans, famous for being fiscally conservative, they ought to be leading the charge because the end result of giving the young people the tools to prevent contraception will also save money! Don't those Colorado Republicans want to save money?
If not, what kind of Republicans are they? I know, I know: They don't want people having sex out of wedlock and so they don't want to encourage promiscuous behavior. But guess what? That ship has sailed already, and no matter how much some may wish we were still in the 1950s when sex out of wedlock was a no-no, it isn't anymore. C'mon, Colorado GOP, and get with the times. It's 2015. Fund the initiative and do what you can to keep teen pregnancy low. Don't — ha, ha! — screw this one up!
The Rev. Skip Lindeman
La Cañada Congregational Church
La Cañada Flintridge
This is yet another example of blind faith truly causing people not to see what is right before their eyes. It is a case of the religious right senselessly putting a roadblock in front of a great solution.
The program has proved to prevent teen pregnancies, abortions and to save tons of money! Yet, on the off-chance that an IUD could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting, they are willing to sabotage the benefits this program provides. It is ludicrous.
Access to effective birth control, almost more than anything else, helps to end the cycle of poverty. It saves money and, more importantly, lives. If the religious right is so "pro-life" as they claim, why would they work to protect fertilized eggs and not actual living human beings?
The promiscuity reasoning is just an excuse to make opposing this program palatable. Proper sexual education is certainly essential but in conjunction with easy access to effective birth control. The real reason opponents are against this program is their religious conviction, pure and simple. When religion helps people cope with life or gives them comfort, great. When it gets in the way of solving real-world problems and helping humanity, it's bad.
It makes me sad that well-meaning good people are sometimes inculcated with so much fear, that they are willing to close their eyes and mind to the world around them, if opening their eyes means contradicting their faith.
Joshua Lewis Berg
If I knew nothing, I would hear the words "Family Planning" and imagine a picture of a dad holding his daughter on his shoulders, and mom holding hands with her son, and the whole family smiling while they contemplate the birth of the next member of their family (as mom's baby-bump suggests). The sun is in the background, and buying a house, funding the kids' future college, and things like these would be the subject of "Family Planning." But when I hear "Family Planning" today, what immediately comes to mind is the image of corner abortion mills that receive our tax dollars so that they may kill the unwanted human beings illegitimately conceived, not by families, but by promiscuous unmarried persons. Someone once remarked that all the organizations that go by "Family Planning" ought to go more appropriately by "Family Childlessness." Now, I'm not against birth control, it's just that if by "control" one means the eradication of already conceived people, then I am against that completely, and I do not believe that I or anyone else should have to fund someone else's bad response to a bad choice that brought them into what they perceive as a bad situation.
According to the question above, the Colorado organization began with private money. If it wants to exist, and people are willing to fund it, then so be it, but if it can only thrive by giving its services "free" at our expense, then it should die. As the research shows, there's nothing exceptional in its success numbers, as the whole country is experiencing similar reductions without their input.
Besides all this, IUDs exist not to prevent pregnancy, but to end it. They generally cause conceived human beings to be ejected from their natural course, and so IUDs should just not be used at all, let alone get distributed for mass insertion. We should teach our kids not only about "risks that come with sexual activities," but about the moral implications of loose behavior and the grave consequence of destroying its conceptuses. "Did not the one who made me in the womb also make them?" (Job 31:15 HCSB).
Rev. Bryan A. Griem
I think that birth control as a part of complete health care should be provided to all in the United States through a single-payer system.
No, IUDs do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Teenagers need guidance with all the health, emotional and social ramifications of being sexually active and, face it, plenty of teens will be. Good public health policies assure that whatever family support is present is augmented as needed. Let's join the rest of the developed (and a lot of the less developed) world and have that.
Safer IUDs and "Plan B" morning-after pills are sharply reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortion numbers are declining. Those in the so-called "right-to-life" (a right which for many begins at conception and ends at birth) movement should be rejoicing that young people today want abortion to be an absolute right, but one to be used rarely. Instead these interferring moralists turn their irrational opposition to technologies which prevent pregnancy and avoid abortions.
Shame on them and shame on the Colorado legislature if they acquiesce.