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MARCH 2021




The Karen Steward Fund to Help Our Girls

When John Steward’s wife, Karen, passed away of cancer last year, he knew just how he wanted to honor her. Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center had long been one of Karen’s favorite nonprofits, and she and John had attended several of our Condom Couture events.

One year, they were particularly impressed to learn about the sharp reduction in teen births achieved by a program called the Colorado Family Planning Initiative (CFPI), which provided free LARC methods (long-acting reversible contraception, such as IUDs and Nexplanon) to low-income women and teens. The program, which ran from 2009-2014, drove a 50 percent reduction in teen births and abortions statewide, avoided nearly $70 million in public assistance costs, and empowered thousands of young women to make their own choices on when or whether to start a family. BVWHC not only participated in the CFPI program, but actually served as the pilot project in 2007.

Knowing that this was an issue near and dear to Karen’s heart, John decided to establish the Karen Steward Fund to Help Our Girls, focused on teen pregnancy prevention.

“What was important to Karen was that girls had the chance to be the women they could become. She had friends while growing up who got pregnant and she saw how disruptive it could be to their lives and goals,” said John. “This is something she would have felt particularly good about supporting.”

To raise the initial funds, John organized a 60-mile bike ride in Karen’s memory – one mile for each year of her life. Karen was a triathlete, and Karen and John enjoyed weeklong bike trips together annually. John and his coach Tom Danielson promoted the memorial ride through Strava, an app that connects endurance athletes globally. The event drew 136 participants from all over the world.

This fundraiser, along with other donations made to BVWHC in Karen’s memory, raised $11,180 – enough to cover the cost of LARC for about 26 local teens. John hopes to make the bike ride, and donations to the fund, an annual event.

If you would like to contribute to the Karen Steward Fund to Help Our Girls, click here.


State Legislation

State legislators are back after a late start to the session due to COVID-19. Bills are being introduced daily. Here are some reproductive health and rights-related bills we’re watching:

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SB 009, Reproductive Health Care Access
This bill would close the gaps in contraceptive access in Colorado by providing contraceptives through the state Medicaid program, regardless of a person’s citizenship or immigration status. It would also enable people who use Medicaid to receive a one-year supply of oral contraceptives.

SB 016, Protecting Preventive Health Care Coverage
The bill codifies a number of preventive health care services currently required to be covered by health insurance carriers without co-pays under the federal Affordable Care Act and adds them to the list of services required to be covered by Colorado health insurance carriers. The bill expands certain preventive health care services to include osteoporosis screening; urinary incontinence screening; and counseling, prevention, screening, and treatment of a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

SB 142, Sexual Violence Survivor Access
Under current law, public funds such as Medicaid cannot be used to pay for an abortion, except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. This bill removes the requirements that those services be performed only in certain health care facilities and only by a physician. These medically unnecessary barriers exclude many other health care providers who provide abortion services and force some survivors to travel hours for care.

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Don't Forget to Register for Reproductive Freedom Lobby Day!

Join the virtual lobby day on March 24th, 9am-noon, sponsored by the Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice coalition. Hear from storytellers and activists and receive training on how to lobby during a virtual legislative session. 
Join breakout rooms to meet with legislators.
RSVP by March 17th.


The Danger Ahead: Early Indicators Show States Will Be the Main Abortion Battleground in 2021

By Elizabeth Nash, Guttmacher Institute.

In the first two months of the year, eight abortion restrictions and bans have been enacted. This is highly unusual: In the past decade, there has been only one year with this level of action so early in state legislative sessions.

  • South Carolina ban on abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy (this ban has been temporarily blocked in court)

  • Kentucky law that grants additional authority to the state’s attorney general to penalize and close abortion clinics

  • Arkansas program with two restrictions—it requires those seeking an abortion to call a state-supported hotline for information on pregnancy resources and services; abortion providers are also required to document the hotline call in the patient’s medical records and with the state

  • Ohio ban on the use of telemedicine for medication abortion

  • Kentucky and South Dakota laws that penalize physicians for not taking medically unnecessary actions for a fetus, despite the fact that both states have existing laws providing legal protections for a fetus delivered after an abortion

  • Kansas initiative for the August 2022 ballot that, if approved by voters, would amend the Kansas constitution to explicitly exclude abortion right

Read full analysis at Guttmacher.org.

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