- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A national campaign that has worked to reduce teenage pregnancy rates is taking on an additional goal: reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies.

Reducing unplanned pregnancies among young adults, in addition to helping teens avoid pregnancy, will give young people more opportunities and control over their lives, said Sarah Brown, chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, which will now be known simply as the National Campaign.

The nation will benefit, she added, because “more children will grow up in intact, married families; there will be less poverty, lower public costs, a lighter burden on the taxpayer and less need for abortion.”

The National Campaign started in 1996 with the goal of reducing the U.S. teen pregnancy rate by one-third.

Last year, the organization celebrated a 36 percent drop in the teen pregnancy rate, plus a 50 percent drop in the teen abortion rate. It also set a new goal of reducing teen pregnancy by one-third in 10 years.

After lengthy discussions, plus financial commitments from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and other funders, the campaign added “unwanted pregnancy” to its prevention goals, Mrs. Brown said yesterday at a press conference.

The National Campaign estimates that one in three pregnancies are “unwanted,” said National Campaign President Isabel V. Sawhill, referring to data showing 1.3 million pregnancies ending in abortion, 567,000 pregnancies deemed “unwanted” by women in the National Survey of Family Growth, and 179,000 miscarriages ending unwanted pregnancies. More than half of these pregnancies were to women in their 20s.

The campaign’s goal will be “to bring more intentionality and planning into pregnancy,” said former New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean, chairman of the National Campaign.

The complexity of the issue was illustrated with a video of young adults talking about their unexpected pregnancies.

Being pregnant is “a shock,” said one woman. A young man, relating his attitude before his girlfriend became pregnant, freely said that “it won’t happen to me.” Other young people explained that they hated to have to remember to take birth control pills or grab a condom in the heat of the moment, and how easy it was to forgo contraception if they had been drinking.

National Campaign leaders yesterday said their efforts would be “big tent” with collaborations with parents, faith-based groups, the entertainment industry, health officials, researchers, and responsible-fatherhood and pregnancy-prevention groups, including those that promote abstinence.

Adoption also should be encouraged and supported, but since domestic infant adoptions numbered only 14,000 last year, it is unlikely to be a major part of the solution for unwanted pregnancy, Mrs. Brown said.

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