Two of the main pillars of the Republican Party's platform nowadays are fiscal conservatism – i.e., less government spending – and the push to get rid of legal abortion entirely.
You'd think, then, that a program that saves the government $6 for every dollar spent and lowers the abortion rate by 35 percent would be something it'd support, right?
After all, it would mean saving the government money and fewer abortions -- two things they continue to promote.
It would be logical to think they'd desire this, but the Grand Old Party hasn't really been operating on the basis of logic for a while now.
In 2007, Colorado received an anonymous donation of $23 million specifically to fund the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, which aimed to lower the rate of teen pregnancy by providing teens with birth control in the form of free or heavily discounted intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants.
IUDs are usually pretty expensive, in the range of $500-$1,000, and they gained a bad reputation back in the 1970s after one device ended up being very harmful.
However, since then, they've become both incredibly safe and incredibly effective. In fact, IUDs and implants are the most effective form of reversible birth control (we're not counting sterilization in this) on the market, because they take out the element of human error.
Putting on condoms can be a tricky business if it hasn't been explained to you properly. Remembering to take a pill, replace a patch or reinsert a device like the NuvaRing can be hard, even with a cell phone alarm to tell you when.
Once the IUD is there, though, it's there, and it's working 24/7.
Because of the roadblocks, though—the reputation, the cost—most women choose a different option. At the moment, only 6.5 percent of American women on birth control use an IUD or an implant.
The Initiative specifically provided teens with IUDs and implants to take out that element of human error and make sexual education more comprehensive, and it's working. Like gangbusters.
Since its implementation, the teen birth rate has dropped 40 percent. The teen abortion rate dropped by 35 percent.
In just one year, it saved the state $42 million on healthcare costs (preventative care at work, ladies and gentlemen).
It also lowered the rate of child poverty in the state; unplanned pregnancies often lead to teen mothers living in poverty, unable to improve their situation because of the difficulties in getting more education once you're already a teen mother.
Basically, this program was an experiment that worked. It offers nothing but good news, especially for people who are fiscally conservative and anti-abortion.
It saved lots of money. It stopped lots of abortions from happening.
But wait. According to conservatives, there are a few, let's say, side effects to the bill's success.
It increased promiscuity, said one. The program is the equivalent of the government subsidizing sex, said another. This is revealing of the conservative view on sex in general, because anything that can be subsidized inherently has a cost to begin with.
The argument is essentially that if people can have sex for free, with no consequences, then they'll have more of it.
Of course this entirely ignores the fact that people do and will have sex anyway just naturally because, well, morality.
State Representative Kathleen Conti perhaps summed up her party's position in the clearest way: “Are we communicating anything in that message that says, 'you don't have to worry, you're covered'? Does that allow a lot of young ladies to go out there looking for love in all the wrong places, as the old song goes?”
First of all, let's point out to Rep. Conti that it takes two to tango – a woman can't get herself pregnant, so why aren't you looking out for the guy's honor? And second of all, yes, it does allow young ladies to go out there looking for love in all the wrong places.
Which is normal and fine and part of growing up, particularly when it's done safely and doesn't result in unintended pregnancies that limit the mother's options and ensure a life of poverty for the child.
Their problem with the initiative is that it limits the potential negative consequences of sex by essentially taking pregnancy out of the equation. This, then, shows us what they're really after with all of the anti-abortion rhetoric.
Saving babies, as they like to describe the basis of the pro-life position, isn't what it's about. It's about trying to stop people from learning about and having safe sex. It's about keeping women pure.
Rep. Conti's focus on young ladies and not young men shows us where she's coming from. Babies, shmabies.
The Colorado Family Planning Initiative gives women complete control over their bodies and their sexual and reproductive choices, and Rep. Conti and her party would like to take it away.
“Ask yourself why you insist on having sex for fun”, says Amy Schumer's recent sketch about the difficulties of obtaining birth control – and that hits right to the point.
Colorado's Republican legislature has decided to scrap the program, of course, and in their minds their success won't be tarnished when the teen birth and abortion rates go back up when the program runs out of money.
"Discouraging" sex – by taking away access to cheap and effective birth control, because this method always works – will have been enough to satisfy them.
Citations: Colorado teen birthrate drops 40 with low cost birth control (CNN), Colorado contraception program was a huge success but the GOP is scrapping it (The Guardian), How Likely Is It That Birth Control Could Let You Down (The New York Times), Study IUDs implants vastly more effective than the pill (CNN), Dollars running out for Colorado teen pregnancy prevention program - See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/dollars-running-out-colorado-teen-pregnancy-prevention-program#sthash.suE1Ct3n.dpuf (Colorado Public Radio), Colorado GOP blocks successful birth control program (The MaddowBlog), My Body My Choice Why We Have To Stop Making Sex A Moral Discussion (Elite Daily), Amy Schumers Ask If Birth Control Is Right For You Lampoons How Ridiculously Hard It Is To Get (Huffington Post)