An amendment to the state budget that would’ve continued a program credited with reducing teen pregnancies and abortion was killed this week. However, a controversial bill that would do the same thing cleared its second reading in the House on Friday.
House Bill 1194 would provide $5 million to continue a program that helps low-income young women and teens access long-acting birth control.
Funding for the Colorado Family Planning Initiative comes from a private donation, but that money will run out this summer.
State officials credit the program with helping to reduce teen pregnancy rates by 40 percent between 2009 and 2013.
Bonnie Koehler is the deputy director of Delta County Health & Human Services. She spoke in favor of the bill before the legislature earlier this year.
Koehler says seven years ago, 26 percent of live births in Delta County were to mothers who didn’t have a high school education.
"And in 2013, there were 313 lives births in Delta County and 50 or 16 percent were to mother with less than 12 years of education," Koehler says. "And anytime I can celebrate a birth to a mother who's completed high school that’s a win in my book."
She says for the past five years the county received $50,000 a year to fund the long-acting birth control program.
"In a [rural] county of 30,000 people, $50,000 to be able to use for one specific program was really windfall money," Koehler says.
Republican Representative Don Coram of Montrose is one of the bill’s sponsors. He says he wants to see the five-year-old program continue because it's effective.
Coram says it’s helped 30,000 females get intrauterine devices and helps keep young women in school and off welfare.
"If you're anti-abortion as I am and you’re a fiscal conservative and you want to break the cycle of poverty [then] this an outstanding bill," he says. "This may be the best piece of legislation I’ve ever worked on."
Some opponents of the bill say IUDs cause abortions, but Coram and the medical community refute that idea.
Coram thinks the measure will easily clear the House but not the GOP-controlled Senate.
"It will die in the first committee," he predicts.