I love Obamacare. I love free mammograms, preventive checkups, and birth control. I love that insurance plans have to cover the “minor” female condition of creating life. I love that hundreds of thousands of our neighbors in North Carolina will soon have access to affordable health coverage.
But no law is perfect.
For example, the Affordable Care Act includes funding for abstinence-only sex education. North Carolina’s State Board of Education recently agreed to distribute about $800,000 to 19 rural public school districts for “just say no” sex education.
If the goal is to decrease the number of teenage girls who get pregnant, there’s no question that abstinence-only sex education is a dismal failure. Those states that provide no sex education or abstinence-only education have the highest teen pregnancy rates. California, on the other hand, saw a 60% drop in teen pregnancy after it started requiring schools to provide comprehensive and medically accurate sex education.
Nationwide, there’s been a decline in teen births as well as in abortions, suggesting that overall fewer teens are getting pregnant.
Why? According to the Guttmacher Institute, “Teens are making the decision to be more effective contraceptive users, and their actions appear to be paying off in lower birth rates. Similarly, young women aged 20–24, a group that also experienced substantial declines in birth rates, also increased their use of contraception at last sex.”
So the good news appears to be that parents, doctors, and even teenagers themselves are stepping up to make sure that reproductive health is a priority.