Never a Better Time for Intentionality
Deciding when, if and under what circumstances to get pregnant is one of the most important life decisions that anyone can make. Yet so many still leave this to chance. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S are described by the women themselves as unplanned. Among single women in their 20s, 7 in 10 pregnancies are unplanned. Despite the fact that 9 in 10 say they don't want to get pregnant at this point in their lives, 40 percent aren't using contraception consistently, and even fewer are using the most reliable forms of contraception - the IUD and implant.
And that is the rub. Clearly, intention and intentionality are not aligned. If they were, we would have a completely different picture on this front because women who do use contraception consistently and correctly account for only 5 percent of all unplanned pregnancies.
This is important in any circumstance because we know that women - especially younger women - who become parents before they are ready are less likely to complete their schooling and more likely to face economic challenges in their lifetimes. This has impacts on both the women themselves, as well as their children.
With the Zika virus emerging as a critical public health issue here and around the globe, it is even more important for us to be intentional about our intentions. The stakes are high - for us and our future generations. And the solutions are there. Never before have there been a broader array or more effective contraceptive options - that combined with a condom - can prevent both an unplanned pregnancy and the transmission of Zika.
You don’t live in a “Zika” affected area? Well, not yet. Few would argue that mosquitos are pesky - and they travel – as do people who you might encounter in your home town. And I would argue that reliable contraception is certainly more foolproof than mosquito repellent. So if you aren’t planning to get pregnant this summer - don’t leave things to chance - find your contraceptive method of choice and use it consistently and carefully.
Ginny Ehrlich is the chief executive officer at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Prior to taking the helm at the National Campaign, Ginny directed the childhood obesity prevention portfolio at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and led the Foundation’s efforts to establish a strategic direction for its $500 million investment in ensuring that all children achieve a healthy weight by 2025. Previously, Ginny spent eight years at the Clinton Foundation, where she served as the Founding CEO of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative and the long-time CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. During her tenure at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Ginny positioned the organization as a national leader on preventing childhood obesity and started the nation’s largest school-based obesity prevention program. Ginny started her career in the classroom as a health and sexuality educator, and has held several state and national leadership positions.
Ginny has dedicated her more than 20-year career to improving the health and wellbeing of children, adolescents, and families. Known for her abilities to build organizational strategic vision and foster partnerships of great purpose across the public, private and nonprofit sectors, Ginny was recognized in 2012 by Health Leaders as one of the nation’s top change agents in the health sector. Ginny has a breadth of experience working with businesses, community organizations, policymakers, schools, and government officials on a wide variety of social welfare issues.
Ginny holds a doctorate of education in education leadership and a Master of Science in Special Education, both from the University of Oregon, a Master of Public Health from Boston University and a BA in Community Health Education, from the University of Oregon. She lives in Washington, DC; she is an avid tennis player and runner.