Colorado Family Planning Initiative

As the veracity of Planned Parenthood is being discussed, there is a program and study that was conducted in Colorado over a seven year period that offers meaningful data. The Colorado Family Planning Initiative offered low-income women and teens access to low or no-cost contraception, including IUDs and implants.

The Governor’s office released the results of the program which analyzed data from 2009 – 2013. The key findings are:

  • there was a 40% statewide decline in the teen birth rate
  • there was a 35% statewide decline in the abortion rate

If the goal is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions, funding the use of contraception along with family planning efforts and information is the better answer. Cutting funding will only increase these numbers. And, it should be noted there are correlations between poverty and increasing family size and poverty and single mothers. This is more true the younger the mother.

Education is a vital part of the program as well. If people want to teach abstinence as part of a holsitic program, that is fine. But, the teachers and funders need to clearly understand these teens and young adults are just like we were, if not more so. They are tempted and will have sex. It would be so much the better, if they were informed of the consequences and knew what options there were.

A key part of the education must help girls understand that self-esteem need not be tied to sex. These girls need to be able to say no and feel confident in withstanding pressure, especially today with so many ads, shows, and stars (by dress and manner) saying it is OK. And, boys need to know that no means no. It can be uttered up to the time in which sex occurs.

As a parent, I know parents worry about their kids. You hope they will make good choices. Yet, we did not always make them and they will likely follow suit. Also, please understand even kids brought up in the strictest of homes will be tempted to do things when away at school or college. It is only natural.

Three anecdotes might help illustrate the importance of education and planning.

  • My brother-in-law taught eighth grade science in a high poverty rural area. Annually, he had a number of girls in his class get pregnant. To them, it was being like an adult a right of passage. Only when it was too late, did they realize the consequences.
  • A colleague was viewed by teens in her church as being the kind of person who would shoot straight with them. She was asked questions that told her these kids thought they could not get pregnant the first time and if they had sex standing up they could avoid pregnancy. When she mentioned to the minister to have a sex education class, he scoffed at her request.
  • A friend who has run several non-profits and is very devout told me the children of his friends would go off to a religious university nearby. He said these kids would go wild when finally away from their parents and shocked some of his friends by what they got into.

So, Planned Parenthood and organizations that provide holistic family planning need more funding to reduce the number of abortions and unwanted pregnancies. Kids need to get good information and access to tools. It is their lives. And, while I focused on pregnancies, STDs and HIV are very viable threats to manage through contraception and education.

Let me close with this thought. As the former Board Chair of an organization that helps homeless working families, single mothers is the predominant group that is helped. It is also the fastest growing homeless population in America. Key tools to help lessen the propensity of poverty and homelessness in this group are family planning, sex education and low-cost birth control.

Lazy days of summer – a few random musings

While many are on vacations with children out of school, events in the world continue to happen. So, in no particular order, here are few random musings.

– The Donald continues to grab headlines with his bombastic opinions. He does not stand a chance of winning an overall election, as his petulance and prima donna act are not key attributes for the job. Ironically, the longer he is in the race, the better the chance for the Democrats to win the White House. A key reason is his GOP competitors need to get some chutzpah and tell him and the country that his opinions are divisive and unappreciated. If they don’t, then their silence condones his act as representative of their party platform.

– A much applauded provision is being introduced into Medicare that will allow reimbursement of end-of-life discussions with your doctor. Doctors favor this and it has bi-partisan support, as it did when it was included in the Affordable Care Act. Yet, people need to remember this is the same issue Sarah Palin called “death panels,” in her run for the Vice Presidency. She was wrong then and would be wrong again if she raises this point. This provision is a good thing.

– The state of Colorado has received acclaim for a program that has dramatically reduced the number of abortions in their state. By providing access to birth control and family planning to more low-income families, the number of abortions has not only been reduced, but their Medicaid budget has declined by $80 million per annum. Unfortunately, the conservative legislature may kill the program as it promotes teen sex. Folks, this measure is common sense, is working and is economical. Plus, these kids are going to have sex, as their temptations are even more when you were that age.

– Along these same lines, the Affordable Care Act has saved women over $1 billion in contraception expense. This provision has been very well received by women and is the same one which caused such a fuss when Hobby Lobby sued and won in court. This was after Hobby Lobby realized they covered birth control in their plan and took it out. Family planning and birth control are part of a solution to better health, abortions and poverty, as teen pregnancy or pregnancy out-of-wedlock, are correlated with poor health for mother and children, the number of abortions and poverty. It should not be lost that over 85% of American Catholic women go against the church’s position on birth control.

– I am not sure what is the best route for Greece, but they need to work something out where they can pay their creditors. Otherwise, the misunderstood vote of last Sunday, is moot. Yet, many view this as an “all or none” issue. Austerity or no-austerity. The answer has to be both, because austerity by itself can further cripple their economy and be a precursor to their demise. They need to invest in some areas which promote the economy and divest in others which are needed measures and the areas are less growth oriented. They need to play to their strengths. But, what the people deserve is honest answers and not political rhetoric. By the way, when a corporation is facing problems, they do the same thing – invest in growth areas and cut in non-growth areas.

– China is faced with a dilemma as the stock market crashes. They have a country of immature investors who are in panic mode as the market falls. The country leaders are telling stockholders it is your patriotic duty not to sell, but that is akin to shoveling water out of a sinking boat with a kid’s small pail. Unfortunately, the market will fall some more and stabilize, which is what markets do. The challenge for others is China has over built its real estate to grow its economy, but no one lives in these places. At some point, a reckoning has to occur and it seems to have arrived. What happens in China investments will have trickle down impact on the rest of the world, at first, and it could get worse if growth slows as a result.

But, what do I know? I am just one person looking for elements of truth in the news and making observations. One thing is for certain, the news must be read with some context, as sometimes the larger points can be missed. I would love to hear your thoughts on these and other issues. Until the next time….