Latinas continue to face obstacles to accessing high quality health care. As a result, we have a higher rate of unintended pregnancy. We know that when women can plan their pregnancies the health outcomes are better for them and their families. That is why the continued funding for the effective Colorado program providing low-income women with access to long acting, effective methods of contraception is so important.
Latinas are more likely to live in areas with poor access to family planning services. We are less likely to have health insurance or the financial resources to be able to afford to access contraception or see a reproductive health professional. There are also specific and significant limitations to the ability of immigrant Latinos to access health information and services.
By ensuring that care is both available and affordable, we are able to support women in Colorado. The Colorado Family Planning Initiative provides comprehensive contraceptive services, including hormonal implants and IUDs for those who may not be able to access them otherwise and helps to expand clinic hours and availability of care.
The number of young women facing unintended pregnancy fell 48 percent from 2009 to 2014. It is difficult to deal with an unplanned pregnancy at any age, but with the stigma and lack of support that many young parents face, it is that much harder for teens.
From 2009 through 2016, the program provided 43,713 no- or low-cost IUDs or implants to women at 75 family planning clinics across Colorado. Between 40,000 and 50,000 women annually have received benefits through this program with clear improvements in public health. The ability to plan our families is an issue of reproductive health, but it is also one of financial stability.
We have worked hard to support continued funding, but we need to make sure that we do not advocate for contraception for young people in a way that judges or demonizes young parents. Young parents are not incapable. They are not more likely to hurt their children and poverty does not just happen to them. They are more likely to face huge obstacles to completing their education and getting the support and services they need to care for themselves and their children. They are more likely to struggle to find affordable childcare or to find a position that pays a living wage and provide workplace protections to help them juggle the needs of their job and their family thereby increasing the likelihood that they are stuck in a cycle of poverty. This does not just happen.
We should continue effective programs like the Colorado Family Planning Initiative that help to close gaps in access to healthcare while also working to break down systems of oppression that make it harder for young people when they face unintended pregnancy and challenge rhetoric about young people and young parents.
We need to support people in being able to become parents when they are ready, to ensure access to the reproductive health care that people need, and to support the health of women and families in our state. Continued funding for this program is an important step.
Karla Gonzales García is the Program and Policy Director for the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR).
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