Roughly one in four teen girls become pregnant at least once by age 20 and fully half of all pregnancies in the United States are reported by women themselves as unplanned. Not too good.

By posting some intemperate thoughts about sex, love, relationships, pregnancy, childbearing, the media, public policy, our dogs, and other topics, we hope to spark a two-way discussion about how best to bring down the high rates of teen and unplanned pregnancy in this country. And who knows…from time to time, we might even offer up a few cogent thoughts that will be helpful.

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Colleges, Education, Public Policy, State and Local, Teen Pregnancy, Unplanned Pregnancy
March 30, 2015

Arkansas State Seal
The Arkansas legislature has just passed a bill to begin addressing unplanned pregnancy among students at community colleges and public universities. This bipartisan bill, introduced by Rep. Deborah Ferguson (D-West Memphis) and Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Springdale) in the House, and Sen.  Keith Ingram (D-West Memphis), is a smart step to reach older teens in the state with the highest teen birth rate in the country, and where 75% of all teen births are to 18- to 19-year-olds. The bill is modeled after pioneering legislation in Mississippi, which was enacted last year with bipartisan support in the legislature and from the Governor. 

Unfortunately, the Arkansas bill has attracted some ridicule because it mentions abstinence but doesn’t explicitly mention contraception. But, let’s take a breath and put this in perspective. Yes, contraception is absolutely important especially for college students, most of whom are having sex. Yes, making sure people know about and have access to the most effective methods of contraception is key. And, yes, content should be relevant for students who are legal adults. 

As Benjamin Hardy points out, the bill has ONE reference to abstinence. It is one of many things mentioned, and in fact is in the context of the following point: “Integrate information that is recognized as medically accurate by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists about the prevention of unplanned pregnancy into academic courses if and when appropriate, including without limitation abstinence education.” While a shame that the bill doesn’t use the word contraception, it does reference collaborating with “the Department of Health or federally qualified health centers, or both, to promote access to care” (which undoubtedly would include contraception). In my experience, people working with students at community colleges and universities are quite practical and understand the reality of their students’ lives. I have some confidence in them to develop a plan that recognizes this reality—and in fact people may want to offer their input as that happens. The fact that a bill on this topic was introduced by Democratic and Republican co-sponsors and passed the Arkansas House and Senate with overwhelming supports says they understand something about navigating the political realities in Arkansas. 

An unplanned pregnancy can make it more difficult for students to succeed in or complete college, yet few colleges provide information or services to help students postpone having children (or additional children) until after they have reached their educational goals. Why not focus on the positive step to address an important issue affecting older teens and college students, and the state’s workforce, rather than letting the perfect be the enemy of the good? I’d vote to cheer rather than jeer this effort.

Authored by: Andrea Kane

Andrea Kane is the Senior Director of Public Policy at The National Campaign. She is responsible for The National Campaign’s public policy program, as well as its growing initiative with community colleges. During her time at the Campaign, she has also had responsibility for partnerships with a wide range of national, state and local organizations and helped launch The National Campaign’s work with youth in foster care and with Latino communities.

From 2001 through 2008, she was also affiliated with the Brookings Institution’s Center on Children and Families in various capacities. Before joining The National Campaign in 2001, Andrea served at the White House Domestic Policy Council as a special assistant to President Clinton. She has also worked at the National Governors’ Association, and at the state and local level in California, Texas, and Virginia.

She studied Government at Smith College, received a BA from Cornell University and an MPA from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

Other Recent Posts

March 26, 2015
Authored by: Chelsey Connolly

Chelsey Connolly is the Senior Manager of College Initiatives at The National Campaign. She is responsible for fostering relationships with college faculty and administrators and working with them to help students achieve their educational goals by preventing unplanned pregnancy. She also supports the development of materials, such as the online lessons, Preventing Unplanned Pregnancy and Completing College. In December 2012 she co-authored a report published by the American Association of Community Colleges, titled Make It Personal: How Pregnancy Planning and Prevention Help Students Complete College, about its project with the Campaign to incorporate the topic of preventing unplanned pregnancy into academic courses.

Since joining the Campaign in 2007, Chelsey has worked in several departments including State and Local Action, the Latino Initiative, and Public Policy. She also managed a federal grant to give teens information about how to have healthy relationships, through which she helped create the award-winning online games, My Paper Boyfriend and My Paper Girlfriend on StayTeen.org.

Chelsey earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing at Georgia Southern University. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband, Brian, and their rescue dog, Sophie.

An unplanned pregnancy can make it more difficult for students to stay in and complete college: 61% of women who have children after enrolling in community college do not finish their education, which is 65% higher than for women who did not have children after enrolling.At the same time, we have...
20-Somethings, Bedsider, Colleges, Contraception, Education, Unplanned Pregnancy
Teen Mom Original Girls
March 23, 2015
Authored by: Amy Kramer

Amy Kramer is the Senior Director of Entertainment Media at The National Campaign. She came to the Campaign in 2007 after more than fifteen years as a television news producer and communications consultant.

Amy’s role at the Campaign is to advance the organization’s mission by working with entertainment media executives, writers, producers, and others to help them incorporate teen and unplanned pregnancy prevention messages into the content of their work. She consults and advises on many television programs and websites, writes episode discussion guides for parents and teens in order to help them watch TV together and talk about it afterward, produces Campaign PSAs and other videos for educational and promotional purposes, and works with outside experts on the media goals of the Campaign.

Prior to joining the Campaign, Amy was a producer at ABC, CNN, and CNBC. She began her career at the political Hotline, a daily news wire service covering state and national politics, and then started in television as a political researcher for CBS News. As a communications consultant she worked with corporations and foundations on issues such as drug abuse, education, health care, aging, and employee/employer relations. She has moderated focus groups, written surveys, and provided analysis and direction on public opinion related to these topics. She has also worked as a political campaign press aide and a summer camp waterski instructor. Amy graduated magna cum laude from Lehigh University with degrees in government and journalism. She lives in Maryland with her husband and dog.

MTV ShowsFor the first time in nearly three years, the original girls of Teen Mom are coming back to television. Teen Mom OG (OG = Original Girls) premieres tonight and while many themes are quite familiar (co-parenting with an ex can be frustrating, communication problems don’t solve themselves,...
Media, Popular Culture, Teen Pregnancy
March 19, 2015
Authored by: Bill Albert

Bill Albert is the Chief Program Officer of The National Campaign. As Chief Program Officer, Bill is responsible for overall program planning and development, and for tracking program progress. In addition, Bill provides oversight to the Campaign’s media outreach and communication strategies, as well as the writing, editing, design, and production of Campaign’s numerous publications and materials. In addition, he oversees the Campaign’s popular, award-winning websites, the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the organization’s work with new media, and the Campaign’s marketing efforts.

Before his work with The National Campaign, Bill spent 12 years working in television news, most recently as the Managing Editor at Fox Television News in Washington, DC. His responsibilities included managing the editorial content of two daily news broadcasts, assigning, editing, and writing stories for air, conducting interviews, and overseeing the work of reporters and electronic news gathering crews.

Bill received his degree in Communications at American University and resides in Kensington, Maryland with his wife, Carol. His perfect 21-year-old son, Harrison The Boy Wonder, is a junior at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD to its friends). 

"This tends to be an issue that people care passionately about and that is often controversial, and our role in all this back and forth is that we are a research-based organization. It doesn’t make controversy go away, but it often helps."Read the rest of this article, originally posted on...
Teen Pregnancy, Unplanned Pregnancy