Choose When was created in late 2016 by a group of Steamboat Springs women who wanted to support women’s reproductive healthcare in our community. Our goal was to find and fill the gaps in the existing network of reproductive healthcare for low-income women.
We began by talking to the public healthcare providers in Steamboat and learned how important providing contraceptive care was to the health and well-being of women and children in Northwest Colorado. Low-income women who can’t afford birth control are five times more likely than other women to have an unplanned pregnancy. These women and their children struggle and many end up in poverty. In Colorado, two-thirds of these families require public assistance.
This is not a newly recognized problem. The 2012-2016 Community Health Improvement Plan for Routt and Moffat Counties set as its top priority the prevention of unintended pregnancy through funding for long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs). A statewide, privately funded program called the Colorado Initiative to Prevent Unplanned Pregnancy had already proven the value of providing LARCs to low-income women who could not afford them. Data from that Initiative demonstrated that when women are provided access to LARCs the abortion rate drops, teen and young adult unplanned pregnancy rates drop and fewer women and children rely on public assistance. And yet, the state was unable to fund and continue the project after private funding ended in 2014.
After conferring with Planned Parenthood, Northwest Colorado Health and local OB/GYNs, and talking to and doing focus groups with low-income women, the need for newly developing just this type of project became obvious to us. Choose When became our local answer to that need.
Northwest Colorado Health, Planned Parenthood and Yampa Valley Medical Center/Yampa Care for Women all agreed to partner with us as we formed Choose When. Our established and respected healthcare partners will implement and administer the program. Choose When will provide funding for LARCs, like IUDs and hormonal implants, for the women of Northwest Colorado who could not otherwise afford it. And together we will provide the education, outreach and advocacy for LARCs.
As a community, we will work to improve the lives of women in Northwest Colorado.