This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Set it and Forget it: Reducing Unwanted Pregnancy

Thanks to one of my readers, Du Elium Kayali Araujo, for the link to a story closely related to my recent post on the dangers of getting pregnancy in the United States. Yesterday the NYTimes Upshot writer Margot Sanger-Katz posted a story about how better contraception could be a key to reducing poverty. If you've followed my blog over time, you know that in my opinion this is not speculative ("could") but is definitive ("will").
Unplanned pregnancies remain astoundingly common. According to the Guttmacher Institute, they represented 45 percent of all pregnancies in the United States in 2011. The majority of abortions, which numbered more than 900,000 in 2014, are in response to unplanned pregnancy, and there are signs that the new program has pushed down Delaware’s abortion rate.
The new program referenced in the article is in Delaware and is a collaboration with a national organization called Upstream. The goal is to reduce unplanned pregnancies by providing women with a one-stop shop for contraception, with a particular emphasis on long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC).
Without a LARC, preventing pregnancy means taking steps like filling prescriptions and remembering to take a pill every day. With one, a woman won’t become pregnant until she takes the step of removing it.

“Set it and forget it,” said Venus Jones, an Upstream trainer. “We call it the Crock-Pot method.”
The program has the very positive impact of reducing abortions, and it has the strong potential to improve the lives of women and their children:
Children whose births are unplanned are likelier to have health complications, to be born into poverty, to stop their education sooner and to earn less. Mothers of unplanned children tend to give birth when they are younger, leave school earlier and earn less when older.
Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has measured the wide gulfs in outcomes between young women with unintended children and those with planned pregnancies later on. She has written extensively in support of expanded LARC access.
“It’s very expensive and very hard to reduce poverty,” Ms. Sawhill said. “Reducing unplanned births is easy by comparison.”
I first made reference to Sawhill's book Generation Unbound more than four years ago, and I've commented on it in several other blog posts since then. If you haven't read her book, you should do so. 

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