Sunday, July 06, 2014

What about *green* squirrels?


There is barely a sentence in this Denver Post article that is not fascinating to me.

The governor of Colorado says that a program which makes long-term reversible contraceptive devices available to low-income women for little or no charge has reduced the teen birth rate by nearly 40% in five years. Let's tick off all the fascinating things:

-- The teen birth rate fell from 37 to 22 (per 1000 women) between 2009 and 2013. That's 40% less.

-- The number of abortions in the counties utilizing the program fell by 35% over approximately the same period.

-- The program was funded for five years by an anonymous donor. One person (or one financial entity) made this happen.

-- The program saved the state $5.68 in Medicare costs for every $1 spent on contraceptives. In 2010 alone, the state's savings amounted to $42.5 million.

-- A director of public policy from "Focus on the Family" said, "What we have seen over many years is that access to contraception does not equal fewer unintended pregnancies and fewer abortions," [...] "Availability of contraception leads to increased sexual activity, which leads to unintended pregnancies and abortions."

I find it fascinating that the spokesperson's first line is contradicted by the study: an increase in the availability of contraception lead to fewer unintended pregnancies and fewer abortions. When presented with the data in the study that indicates "these things go down," the organization effectively said, "no, we believe they don't go down." It's like being shown a blue squirrel and subsequently saying, "History shows us that squirrels are not blue."

-- The program being privately funded is an interesting wrinkle. It means that no arguments can be made about taxpayer money being used, though the religious group spokesperson still objects that the state is distributing them, and that "parental rights" are being subverted (the devices were available without needing parental consent).

-- 30,000 devices have been distributed by the program.

-- The declines meant that Colorado improved from the 29th-lowest teen birth rate to 19th in the same five year period.


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