From Melba Newsome, Associate Director of Development, Planned Parenthood Health Systems of Charlotte:
When my friend’s high school daughter told her mom she wanted to get birth control, my friend had two reactions: she was shocked to know that her teenager was sexually active and relieved that she was taking steps to avoid becoming one of the more than 12,000 15-19-year-old N.C. females who get pregnant each year.
This common family scenario highlights the connection between Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Mother’s Day, two observances that fall in the same week in May. Fortunately, the number of teen pregnancies in North Carolina and Mecklenburg County dropped by nearly one-third between 2009 and 2012. That is great news but as long as 87 percent of pregnancies in this age group are unplanned, this is no time to celebrate.
The secret to reducing teen pregnancies is no secret at all – broad access to accurate sex education and birth control. A core mission of Planned Parenthood is educating teens about healthy relationships and sexuality, as well as the importance of protecting themselves against both unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Sex education has been proven to help young people delay sex and to use contraception and condoms when they do become sexually active.
Studies have found that young teen mothers are unlikely to complete their schooling and face lifetime financial struggles. Their children will likely grow up in economically disadvantaged, single parent homes, have lower school achievement, more health problems, higher dropout and incarceration rates and become teen parents themselves.
The Republican-controlled legislature in Raleigh wants to have it both ways – cut assistance to those in need and block access to birth control and information that can reduce poverty, teen pregnancies and abortion rates while touting a pro-family agenda.
Planned Parenthood recognizes that through prevention, education and quality healthcare, we can make sure that every child is wanted and loved, thus fulfilling the true promise of motherhood.