A recent report by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services documents that Maine has done an impressive job of reducing the incidences of teen pregnancy, unintended pregnancy and, as a result, the incidences of abortion.
Maine has gone from having one of the highest teen pregnancy rates to one of the lowest. Teen abortion rates fell by 54 percent between 1998 and 2002. The policies that have produced these results are the teaching of comprehensive family life education in schools, providing family planning services to women and making emergency contraception available.
Educating young men and women about the value of postponing sexual activity, empowering them to make appropriate choices for themselves and giving them information about pregnancy prevention produces informed youth, lower rates of sexually transmitted infections and fewer pregnancies. By contrast, the “abstinence-only” programs actually lead to an increase in risky behaviors with resulting increase in sexually transmitted infections. When kids turn 14, we don’t just give them the keys to the car and say, “Don’t get yourself killed.” We teach good driving skills and avoidance of dangerous behaviors. Complete information is needed to make good judgments.
We must continue to provide young people with the information they need to prevent pregnancy and disease. According to this report, Maine has a track record of effectively decreasing teen pregnancy rates. These are important achievements. Let’s support our schools to advance this success.
Connie Adler, Wilton