Like most adolescent health advocates across the US, we’ve been alarmed by the onslaught of legislation and budget reductions aimed at weakening our infrastructure for helping teens prevent pregnancy. Research tells us that 90% of teen girls want to avoid pregnancy. Research also tells us that we have solutions that are proven to work – like the evidence-based programs funded through the new Office of Adolescent Health or the Title X family planning funding that saves our state more than $100 million a year by helping low-income women and teens avoid unplanned pregnancies.
Last Friday, the US House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution that eliminates the Office of Adolescent Health and the Title X funding. There’s still hope, though: President Obama’s proposed budget still includes the funding, and the US Senate should have a lengthy debate on the topic. But, with most attention going to the threatened shutdown of the federal government, it’s important that we remind our Congressional delegates how important these two prevention initiatives really are.
Today, our executive director Kay Phillips released the following statement:
pregnancy rates. With smart, fiscally responsible investments from the state of North Carolina and the federal government, we turned the tide and our adolescent pregnancy rate recently reached a 30-year low. Now, having made such progress but still holding rank with the 14th highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, we cannot give up.
Last Friday, the US House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) that eliminates two of our most helpful tools for helping young people avoid pregnancy, make responsible decisions, and access a healthy, prosperous future. The elimination of Title X and the new Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives stand to increase the cost North Carolina to taxpayers by more than $100 million each year, and set North Carolina’s adolescent pregnancy rate back decades.
Title X is the federal government’s domestic family planning initiative, and provides basic care – including contraceptives, mammograms and cancer screenings, pap tests, STI/HIV tests, and more – to low-income women through county health departments and community clinics. In 2008, it helped our state avert 28,000 unintended pregnancies, including teen pregnancies. More specifically, Title X prevented more than 7,000 adolescent pregnancies in 2006.
Without Title X, North Carolina’s 2008 teen pregnancy rate would’ve been 32% higher. In 2008, Title X saved North Carolina taxpayers more than $109 Million by helping low-income women avoid unintended pregnancies.
The US House of Representatives’ CR has also eliminates the new Office of Adolescent Health, which has committed more than $30 million to North Carolina projects over the next five years. Eliminating this program will not only eliminate programs and jobs, but will also reduce North Carolina’s infrastructure and research base for helping communities combat teen pregnancy through both abstinence-based and comprehensive prevention programs.
Teen pregnancy already costs North Carolina taxpayers more than $300 million each year. Public health initiatives – including those funded by both the state of North Carolina and the federal government – have been tremendously successful in reducing the cost to taxpayers. Furthermore, these initiatives have improved lives, stopped generational cycles of poverty and poor outcomes, and increased the number of North Carolina youth who have the opportunity to become healthy, responsible, prosperous adults. We simply cannot afford to regress.
We ask Senators Hagan and Burr to make the fiscally and morally responsible decision to proactively work to include Title X and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives in the federal budget.”