The Path Forward
One of my favorite quotes from Tim Geithner, former Treasury Secretary, is this: “Condoms don’t cause sex.”
Improving access to contraceptives, helping young people get the healthcare they need, and talking about safe sex won’t cause teenage pregnancy. We need a path forward if we are going to reduce these inequalities.
Improve Contraceptive Access and Use — Several studies have shown that around the world, “declines in teen pregnancy risk [are] entirely driven by improved contraceptive use.” This improved contraceptive use accounted for the entire 28% decline in teen pregnancy risk between 2007 and 2012 in the US. This means funding Planned Parenthood through donations and continued reimbursements through Medicaid and reestablishing parts of Title X that were slashed under President Trump.
🏫 Permit SBHCs to offer LARCs — School Based Health Centers (SBHCs) should be allowed to offer Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARCs), like IUDs, to young adults in need. The country’s 2,000 SBHCs are mostly located in urban areas and are basically school health clinics located on site with a focus on preventative care. While SBHCs have proven to increase academic performance by improving student health, they have come under fire because they also offer IUDs. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended LARCs as the first line of defense in preventing teen pregnancy. SBHCs tend to support low-income and underinsured populations, and increasing their reach across the US has shown in some cases to decrease teenage pregnancy in by 40%.
🐥 🐝 Promote sex education at home and in schools — In the Netherlands, sex education starts at an early age, coming from both teachers and parents. This early intervention has proven to give Netherlands one of the lowest teenage pregnancy rates in the world, lowest abortion rates, and lowest HIV prevalence rates. France has mandatory sex education which has resulted in a teenage pregnancy rate that is 3.5x lower than that of the US. American parents can learn from their peers abroad about how to have “the talk” to reduce teenage pregnancies. This type of comprehensive sex education from both teachers and parents about a range of healthy options can reduce teenage pregnancy rates by half.