As a part of the “16 and Pregnant” generation, we are no strangers to unplanned pregnancies. It is something that is so common in our society nowadays that it doesn’t seem like there is even a controversy over it anymore. A recent New York Times article, written by the governor of Delaware, Jack Markell, begs to differ. He argues that there are many adverse outcomes from an unplanned pregnancy, saying, “Unintended pregnancy is associated with a variety of negative health, economic, educational and psychological outcomes, for children and for parents.” If the government would give women access to proper reproductive health care and better sexual health education to everyone, we could do a lot to prevent at least a portion of these unplanned pregnancies and their negative effects. I agree with Markell that something needs to be done to prevent these unplanned pregnancies.
I believe that limiting knowledge about and access to safe and healthy means of reproductive health is furthering these problems that come about as a result of unplanned pregnancy. I believe that this begins with the restriction and defunding of clinics like Planned Parenthood because part of their services include providing abortions. Although certain members of the government might believe that abortion is fundamentally against their personal beliefs, in reality, we need to aid the women who are carrying these children and express concern as to whether or not our current efforts are safe and healthy means of carrying out life. In his article, Markell writes, “In a national survey, fewer than 20 of respondents said that their community health centers offer the full range of contraceptive methods.” If governments took reproductive health more seriously and made access to contraception more widespread we would be able to help decrease the number of unplanned pregnancy per year in the United States.
I think that the mass amounts of unplanned pregnancies and the problems associated with them is a result of miseducation. According to an article from NPR, the United States is the leading country in unplanned pregnancies, specifically teen unplanned pregnancies. But I don’t believe that we are leading on sexual health education. There is a stigma about sexual health education that it is inappropriate to talk about in schools and the only way to teach it is by teaching abstinence — whole lot of good that is doing. There is a reason why we are the country that is able to have multiple seasons of a show entitled, “16 and pregnant” that essentially glorifies teen unplanned pregnancies. When teenagers and even young adults are uneducated about proper sexual health, it leaves them with few options when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. They are unaware of their options, especially if the government decides to restrict access to safe and healthy abortions, limiting girls and women even further.
Markell is trying to spark change in Delaware with the hope of inspiring other states to do the same. The article states that there is a new form of contraception for women that is “20 times less likely to fail than the pill, patch, or ring.” This new form of birth control could really begin to lower the number of unplanned pregnancies that occur annually. However, we don’t live in a perfect world and there have been problems with Delaware’s health care system, which is not prepared for such a big change. The state doesn’t have the financial stability and the doctors don’t have the knowledge to implement these new forms of contraception.
This is not the end for the governor though. He said, “Delaware formed a public-private partnership with Upstream USA, a nonprofit group that provides training and advice to health centers to improve reproductive health care and access to contraception.” According to the article, the partnership is extremely successful and they expect positive results. I think it is inspiring that Delaware is taking charge of their standing regarding reproductive health and I think their actions could influence other states to create similar partnerships and open these opportunities to women. I also believe that these types of partnerships could create a great change in the amount of unplanned pregnancies and the negative outcomes that are often associated with them.