Colorado legislative effort reveals statewide support for contraceptive access

Program seen as important to public health, education, economic security and more

Over the past five years, Colorado made more progress than any other state reducing unplanned pregnancies.  A key factor was better access to effective contraception.  Local health centers across the state received private funding to augment their long-standing publicly-funded family planning programs. Women faced fewer barriers to choosing and using the birth control method that works be for them. More women were able to access these health care services.  With private funding coming to an end, the state sought a funding increase to continue these cost-effective efforts to improve people’s lives.  

It’s never easy to increase funding for any program in state budgets. Legislator’s commitment to being good stewards of public funds makes it a heavy lift to spend more.  But a successful case was made and strategy employed demonstrating positive outcomes for all Coloradans.  Solid data showing successes, sharing real-life positive impacts, bringing together a range of supporters and strong communications underlie a successful two-year effort.  

In May 2016, Governor Hickenlooper signed into law a budget that included a $2.5 million increase in the state family planning budget, better enabling more women to choose the birth control method of their choice. It is the first increase of this size in the program’s 45 year history.  A concerted effort to make the case for increased investment was made by state officials, committed legislators, and advocates of many stripes based on outcomes achieved during a public-private partnership to expand contraceptive access. Several thought that it would be too controversial to pass, especially after being defeated in the previous year. The collaborative effort built bi-partisan support empowering more individuals to plan if and when to become pregnant.

Gov. Hickenlooper accepts national recognition on behalf of Colorado’s Family Planning Initiative.

Rep. Becker wears plastic IUD replica earrings to show her support.

Rep. Becker wears plastic IUD replica earrings to show her support.

“(This program) means better health and social outcomes for women — more stable families, girls staying in schools longer, people accessing state programs less. It saves money for the state and it leads to better social outcomes for the families who use this.”
- Rep. KC Becker (D-Boulder)

Rep. Lois Landgraff (R-El Paso County)

Rep. Lois Landgraff (R-El Paso County)

“It’s hard for me because I am Catholic,” Landgraf said, referring to Catholic teachings against birth control. “But when it comes down to it, the reduction in abortions, girls staying in school who are hopefully going to go on to college, not getting on welfare, not needing Medicaid – that says everything I needed to hear. So I’m going to vote for your bill.”
- Rep. Lois Landgraff (R-El Paso County)


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