Who Doesn’t Like Options?


Amy Livingston | Guest Contributor

Let’s face it: women have babies.  

Babies are a miracle, there is no doubt about it.  I wouldn’t change my miracle, baby-maker-status for the world.

That said, if I had to identify one thing that has helped me achieve my educational, career, and family goals, I would pick birth control.

Why, do you ask?

For the last 25 years, birth control has enabled me to complete my education, earn an advanced degree, found a nonprofit (Global Health Foundation) and, ultimately, achieve the number of pregnancies my partner and I wanted.

The author, her partner, and their three daughters. 

The author, her partner, and their three daughters. 

Blessed as we are with three beautiful girls (including one set of twins), my partner and I are perhaps even more grateful to have the option to “control” births again . . . if you know what I mean!

This was made all the more clear to me when I went to have my IUD replaced this month only to be presented with a possible bill for $1,400 if my partner’s employer were to eliminate coverage due to the rollback of the birth control coverage mandate.

For all of these reasons, I am a Coloradan for Birth Control!

A lot of people don’t know our state is, in fact, a leader in supporting women to plan their families by removing barriers to birth control education and affordable methods.

In 2009, the Colorado Initiative to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy launched to increase investments in birth control education and services and since then we have achieved astounding results including:

  • a 54% drop in the teen births (30% decrease for women ages 20-24),
  • a 63% decrease in teen abortions (41% drop for women ages 20-24), and
  • $66M+ in avoided public health related costs.

Let’s take a minute to digest those numbers. More than half of teen births and abortions prevented. Tens of millions of dollars in expenses avoided. That’s big.

But what is even more profound is the many, many stories behind these numbers. Stories of women and their partners avoiding unintended pregnancies with the potential to derail educational, career, and life goals. This is why I believe birth control is absolutely a best buy investment to support girls and women in achieving health equity, building healthy families, reducing poverty, supporting youth health and development, furthering educational advancement and reaching economic self-sufficiency.

Right now, more than 325,000 of us women in Colorado are in need of publicly funded birth control methods and family planning services. And despite Colorado’s tremendous success, recent federal policy changes and proposals threaten our ability to access and afford those services including:

  • Birth Control Mandate Rollback: 30,000 women in Colorado are at risk for losing contraceptive coverage in insurance provided through their employer,
  • Community Health Centers (CHC): 20 CHCs with 100+ clinical sites in 61 of the 64 counties serving 700,000 Coloradans face a 70% reduction in program funding,
  • Eliminate Title X Funding: Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated to providing the full range of birth control methods and related preventive care. 55,000 Coloradans receive family planning services from 69 clinics funded by Title X , and
  • Reverse Medicaid Expansion: funding that provided women’s health services to 100,000+ women is under threat by the ACA repeal efforts and budget negotiations.

I encourage you to think about your life without birth control. And, like me, I bet you’ll find that it might look very different.  

So perhaps you’ll join me as a Coloradan for Birth Control to support the rights of women in our communities to freely plan our families, including when--or whether--to have children and how many.

Amy Livingston is the founder and Executive Director of the Global Health Foundation and a native Coloradan with more than 20 years of experience working in the fields of women’s reproductive health, conservation, and human rights in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa.