May 4, 2015 — The Colorado Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Wednesday voted 3-2 to kill a measure (HB 15-1194) that would have provided $5 million in funding for a program that helps improve access to long-acting reversible contraceptives among low-income women in the state, the Durango Herald reports (Marcus, Durango Herald, 4/29).
The Colorado Family Planning Initiative offers no- or low-cost LARCs, such as intrauterine devices and hormonal implants, to low-income women at 68 clinics throughout the state. The initiative was established as a five-year pilot program through a $25 million private donation. The program needs $5 million to continue, but state lawmakers have disagreed over whether such funding can be provided through the state budget (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/13).
The initiative has provided more than 30,000 IUDs and other LARC methods to low-income, uninsured or underinsured Colorado women (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/16). In addition, since the initiative began, the state's teen birth rate has decreased by 40%. Meanwhile, the abortion rate among teens has decreased by 34%, according to Larry Wolk, Colorado's chief medical officer and executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Further, in that period, the state has saved about $23 million from averted Medicaid costs associated with birth. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials have predicted the program could save the state up to $40 million in Medicaid costs that would otherwise go toward pre- and postnatal care (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/25).
Supporters Seek Alternative Funding
According to the Herald, supporters of the program now are working to solicit donations to fund the initiative.
Wolk brought before the committee an award that the program received Tuesday from the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. He said, "We have the will to make this program successful. The will of the governor, the will of a number of legislators, the will of evidence-based organizations ... who say [LARCs] are safe and the preferred method of birth control for ... young women."
Meanwhile, state Rep. Don Coram (R) said of the vote, "It is a little disappointing because I don't think this should be a political issue. This should be a policy issue. Lives do matter, and if we're going to break the cycle of poverty, this is a very good tool" (Durango Herald, 4/29).
Antiabortion-Rights Ultrasound Requirements Die in Colo. Senate Committee
In related news, Colorado's Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday voted 3-2 to kill a measure (SB 15-285) that would have required women to have an ultrasound before an abortion and implemented a mandatory delay before the procedure, the Durango Herald reports.
Specifically, the measure would have required women to wait 24 hours after their initial consultation with a physician to have an abortion. In addition, the bill would have required women to hear a description of the fetus' development and be offered a picture of the fetus.
Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik (R) opposed the measure, saying it would have infringed on women's right to liberty, noting, "I've heard time and time again during this legislative session about the protection of liberty and personal responsibility. I believe individuals who are females should be able to do that, as well."
During testimony on the measure, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado Executive Director Karen Middleton called the bill "insulting to Colorado voters and values, to Colorado women, and to Colorado medical providers" (Marcus, Durango Herald, 4/30).