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Colorado's Free IUD Program Set To End In July

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Over the past 20 years, the teenage birth rate in this country has dropped by more than half. Now it's at an all-time low. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that's become more kids are waiting longer to have sex and more teenagers are using birth control. Several states, including South Carolina, Iowa and New Mexico have programs to make birth control more accessible, especially intrauterine devices, known as IUDs. But these programs can be controversial. One of the big criticisms is the price. IUDs can cost hundreds of dollars. Colorado started an initiative back in 2009 to give out free IUDs in health clinics thanks to a large private grant. That money is about to dry up. In July, the program will end. One Republican lawmaker, Don Coram, has been leading the charge to keep the program going. And he says, yes, this is about keeping teenage pregnancy rate down, but he says it's also about money.

DON CORAM: For every dollar that we spent on this, we averted spending $5.85 on social services, on welfare, on hospitalizations. It was just a huge, huge savings.

MARTIN: Coram points to Colorado's teen birth rate, which dropped 40 percent from 2009 when the free IUD program began. He floated a bill to get the state to keep funding the program, but last month the legislature voted it down.

CORAM: I will be in contact with the state health department and try to find another source for funding as a stopgap measure because if this continues, not doing this program, the abortion rate will certainly go back up. The teen pregnancy rate and, you know, just the cycle of poverty will continue. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.