Colorado birth control program funding should be taken locally to voters

Sean Kennedy

Sean Kennedy
Sean Kennedy

As much as some politicians may not like it, people are going to have sex whenever they want. However, that shouldn’t stop the voting public from supporting funding for important, public sexual health programs.

In recent months, the Colorado Family Planning Initiative – a program that provides long-acting birth control and contraceptives such as IUDs and implants to low-income women around the state – has become a hot political topic as lawmakers have sought to secure state financing for the program, whose primary source of public funding ran out earlier this year. However, state money for the program no longer appears to be an option as the conservative-dominated state Senate opposes funding for ideological reasons.

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While the opposition to funding a contraceptive program is understandable in a state as politically diverse as Colorado, this program is too important to women’s health to let fall to the wayside. Funding for the CFPI should be implemented by local voters to secure financing from the communities that will take advantage of these vital health services.

Regardless of any personal objections to contraceptive services being available to women, the Family Planning Initiative makes fiscal sense for the state of Colorado overall, as well as having a proven track record of effectively reducing teen pregnancies and abortions in the state. According to the Denver Post, state officials estimated that nearly $80 million in Medicaid costs were averted during the initiative’s first three years. The CFPI is also believed to have contributed in part to the overall 48 percent decrease in teen pregnancies and abortions statewide since 2009. In addition to combating a legitimate public health concern, this initiative saves our communities money in the long run, and it deserves stable, long-term funding from localities that support the availability of modern public health services to women.

Since state funding for this program appears unrealistic in the current political climate, municipal funding for the CFPI is essential to maintaining the quality of services and medical devices it provides to low-income women across Colorado. The long-acting contraceptive devices the program provides normally cost between $500 and $1,000, and while private funding for the program is ideal, it is not a realistic option to sustain the program long-term. For its first seven years, the CFPI has run on $27 million in grants from a private foundation, and recently, $2 million in emergency funding from public foundations as state support has deteriorated. This program needs the financial clout that backing at a municipal level can offer to continue providing the same level of support to public health institutions.

Taking the issue of funding this important public health initiative to voters on a local level is the most realistic and fair option to addressing female sexual health in the long run. While myself and other like-minded individuals believe that a person’s income should not be a barrier to her enjoying a healthy sexual lifestyle of her choosing, there are plenty in our diverse state that may disagree. Addressing this issue on a local level will help keep long-acting contraception affordable for low-income residents for the communities that support access to modern sexual health care options for women.

If the Ashley Madison fiasco has taught us anything, it’s that consenting adults are going to have sex whenever and with whoever they want. It’s up to us to promote and support sexual health in our communities, and that starts with keeping protection affordable for all.

Collegian Senior Columnist Sean Kennedy can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @seanskenn