Unwanted Teen Pregnancy Experiences Remarkable Decline in Colorado

Colorado has achieved remarkable reductions in the rate of teenage pregnancy in recent years by giving young women free, long-acting contraceptives that protect them for several years. The birthrate among teenagers in the state plummeted by 40 percent from 2009 to 2013 and teenage abortions dropped by 42 percent largely as a result of this initiative.

Credit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for an aggressive outreach program and wise use of private money to carry out a program that could not win approval from the state’s legislature, the General Assembly. The department used funds from a private foundation to provide women with long-acting contraceptives at little or no cost. More than 30,000 intrauterine devices (IUDs) and contraceptive implants were distributed at 68 family planning clinics across the state.

The contraceptive implant is a small plastic rod, about the size of a matchstick, that contains a small amount of hormones and is inserted just under the skin of the upper arm. It can prevent pregnancy for three years once inserted and can be easily removed at any time; fertility immediately returns to normal. The IUDs provided are effective for at least five years, according to the department.

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