2016: A Look Back

While many say they’re ready for 2016 to end, we still have a reason to cheer—and not just because the Campaign celebrated its 20th anniversary this year! Between huge rate declines, increased education about the most effective forms of birth control, and renewed interest in the role unplanned pregnancy plays in society—it was a busy year for reproductive health. Here are some of our highlights:

  • Unprecedented declines in rates of teen birth and pregnancy. There was a 46% drop in teen births between 2007 to 2015, while the teen pregnancy rate has declined 55% between 1990 to 2011 (the most recent data available). While major disparities still persist, we can still report that there was a 50% decline in birth rates for Hispanic and Black teens.An even greater surprise were the huge declines in unintended pregnancy—now at a 30-year low. The rate of unintended pregnancy fell 18% between 2008 to 2011.

Why all these historic declines? Experts say we can thank better birth control. More women than ever are using the most effective methods of birth control—the IUD and Implant. These methods are long-term and low-maintenance, and are credited for the decline (though teens these days are having less sex, too).

What else?

Renewed recognition for the role teen and unplanned pregnancy plays in educational and economic opportunity, as well as social mobility—and a call for cross-sectoral collaboration. Bridgespan even called reducing rates of unplanned pregnancy a billion-dollar bet for reducing poverty in the U.S. 

The uninsured rates of reproductive-aged women fell by one-third under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  We know millions of women still lack access to the full range of birth control methods, so in 2016 we launched our contraceptive heat maps—one of the first steps in addressing the role birth control access plays in women’s power to decide if and when to become pregnant.  

And to toot our own horn…

  • New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof called a donation to the Campaign a holiday gift that makes a difference.
  • We launched a Google partnership which give users better search results for birth control terminology, powered by the Campaign and Bedsider.
  • Our Innovation Next grants will fuel the next generation of sex-education technology.
  • And more people than ever before said Thanks, Birth Control on November 16, 2016. We hope you will too by posting to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels using hashtag #ThxBirthControl.  And don’t forget to snap up a #ThxBirthControl t-shirt—proudly wear your love for birth control!

While we don’t know what 2017 will bring—we know that we will continue the progress of the past, as we face new challenges. Thanks to everyone in our community and beyond for being a powerful force of change in giving young people the power and opportunity to plan their own futures, on their own terms.

Authored by: Kate Meroski

Kate is the Manager of Digital Media  at The National Campaign. She is the web editor and content manager for the Campaign’s teen and corporate web properties (StayTeen.org and TheNationalCampaign.org), as well as their associated social media accounts.  She is also responsible for managing the Campaign’s youth initiative work, including the National Youth Leadership Team.  

Kate holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from The George Washington University. 

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