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Lawmakers return to contraception debate

A state bill seeking millions of dollars in funding to continue a government-funded contraceptive program is drawing strong rebuke for its attempt to sterilize women and send false messages about their fertility.

The Colorado Catholic Conference (CCC), the Church’s lobbying arm in the state, is encouraging faithful to contact their state representatives and ask them to oppose House Bill 1194 that proposes greater access to inter-uterine devices (IUDs) in women.

“The CCC is deeply concerned about the consequences of widespread temporary sterilization of women and girls in Colorado; these forms of contraception do nothing to prevent STDs and there is nothing to suggest that the psychological and medical risks and costs associated with increased sexual activity will be managed or addressed by this legislation,” the conference stated in an email.

Legislators are giving the LARC (long-acting reversible contraception) bill another look after it took a brief hiatus following a house committee’s initial approval in late February. The bill is expected to draw debate from both sides of the aisle for its proposal to add $5 million in funding to the state health department’s program targeted at providing contraception to low-income teenagers and young women.

Proponents of the bill cite the need for wider access to LARCs, including IUDs like Mirena and Skyla, in order to reduce unplanned pregnancies.

Local nurse Dede Chism, co-founder of Bella Natural Women’s Care and parishioner of Holy Name Parish, reacted to the push for increased contraception funding as a move that further objectifies women and their fertility.

“Contraception exploits a woman’s body,” Chism said from the Englewood clinic. “It says, ‘All of you is OK but your fertility is not OK.’”

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These kinds of messages occur when patients are given Band-Aid solutions to fertility issues, such as abnormal uterine bleeding, and are prescribed an IUD as an easy fix, she said.

Bill sponsors tout IUDs as a way to prevent unplanned pregnancies and require little maintenance by women. Yet they do not prevent the risk of STDs and can cause serious medical problems like a perforated uterus or ectopic pregnancy.

Some dissenters of the bill said rather than an infallible way to prevent pregnancy—like abstinence—LARCs undermine the dignity of women.

Chism said women deserve real options that address the source of the fertility issue and should be educated about their bodies.

“We can be giving someone a mixed message in giving them a treatment of symptoms that also affects their fertility. The message that can give is, ‘I need to be afraid of my fertility. I need to not have to worry about my fertility. My sexual choices don’t matter.’”

Bella Natural Women’s Care has responded to the need for healthy fertility options.

The resulting message should be that every part of a woman is good, beautiful and true, she said. Instead of increasing access to contraception, women should have access to fertility awareness.

“Young women, adolescents, and all women deserve to learn how their bodies are working and how their reproductive cycle works,” Chism said. “It’s not so frightening and it’s also super empowering.”

For more information on the bill and how to contact state legislators, visit www.cocatholicconference.org. Read more about the bill here.


Coming Up

“Contraception in Teens: Harming your Daughter Today and Tomorrow”
Dr. Stephen Hickner
7:30 p.m. April 15
St. John Paul II Center, 1300 S. Steele St.

“Fertility Awareness: Natural Approaches to Reproductive Health”
Dede Chism, perinatal nurse
7 p.m. April 29
Bella Natural Women’s Care, 180 E. Hampden Ave., Englewood



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