In recent years, teenage pregnancies and abortions in Colorado, United States, have had a sharp reduction. A report made by the newspaper The New York Times He notes that the teen pregnancy rate was reduced by 40% and the abortion rate dropped by a staggering 42%.
But, why the sudden fall?
It's very simple, really. Colorado provides free contraceptives to those who need them through a state program called Colorado's Family Planning Initiative. Since 2008, more than 30,000 people have been allowed to obtain long-term reversible contraceptives, usually intrauterine devices (IUDs).
According to the Guttmacher Institute, IUDs are one of the most effective forms of birth control, with a failure rate of less than 1%. It should come as no surprise that women choose them who do not want children when they are at their disposal.
It sounds like a win-win for almost everyone
Whatever your opinion regarding abortion, I think most agree that they prefer not to practice one. Unwanted pregnancies are unplanned pregnancies. By reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, this program was able to reduce the number of women who need to resort to an abortion.
What about the cost of providing free contraceptives?
There is some good news too. Less unplanned pregnancies mean fewer parents who are not financially capable of caring for a child; consequently, state and federal governments save money from the aid program. A study created by Guttmancher determined that for every dollar invested in family planning programs, the government saves $ 7.09 in other programs, which means that the Colorado program pays for itself and something else. Only between 2010 and 2012 were avoided between 4 thousand 300 and 9 thousand 700 unwanted pregnancies, saving the state between $ 49 million and $ 111 million in medical funds.
Accessible contraceptives are only one way to reduce unwanted pregnancies
The Colorado program was effective, but it is not the only proven way to reduce unwanted pregnancies. One method that has been shown to reduce teenage pregnancy, as well as sexually transmitted diseases, is simply to arm knowledge to the people.
Studies show that abstinence is not an effective way to reduce teen pregnancy
As of July 2015, only 18 states in the United States taught sex education courses that provide information about contraception, while 37 states require that these courses cover the issue of abstinence (that is, 25 of those states require that the courses emphasize the importance of not having sex).
Programs that only handle abstinence until marriage drastically affect the age at which students become sexually active. In fact, studies show that students who only receive abstinence sex education are more likely not to use contraceptives and are more likely to end unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases.
In the end, the prevention of unwanted pregnancies is simple
It's as easy as filling people with knowledge (comprehensive sexual education) and resources (contraceptives) to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Denying these means to adolescents and adults has a greater social and financial cost.
Colorado still hopes to find out the fate of its successful program, but it is important to evaluate initiatives such as this, considering that these are solutions in which it is worth investing money and effort. Avoiding unwanted pregnancies and abortions is something that we are all able to participate in.