Colorado achieved incredible reductions in teen pregnancy through free birth control

The six-year program has run out of foundation money and the state is unlikely to pick up the tab, despite the 40% drop in teen births and 42% drop in abortions achieved through the simple expedient of giving free IUDs and implants to teens who asked for them.

IUDs are controversial among a certain loony conservative, who believe the bizarre fantasy that IUDs are a form of abortion (this was at the center of last year's Hobby Lobby Supreme Court challenge).

Unplanned pregnancies among poor young women are strongly correlated with a lifetime of poverty, and with poor outcomes and social mobility for their children. Every dollar spent on preventing teen pregnancies saves more than $5 in medical assistance for teen mothers.

In 2009, half of all first births to women in the poorest areas of the state happened before they turned 21. By 2014, half of first births did not occur until the women had turned 24, a difference that advocates say gives young women time to finish their educations and to gain a foothold in an increasingly competitive job market.

"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 is a powerful tool to prevent it.

Colorado's Effort Against Teenage Pregnancies Is a Startling Success [Sabrina Tavernise/NYT]

(via Kottke)

(Image: Figure2-Gynefix200IUD, Contreleurope, CC-BY-SA)