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U.S. Lacks Adequate Investment in Family Planning To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, NYT Columnist Argues

U.S. Lacks Adequate Investment in Family Planning To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, NYT Columnist Argues

November 13, 2014 — The roughly 33% pregnancy rate among U.S. teenagers illustrates "a tale of national irresponsibility and political irresponsibility -- of us as a country failing our kids by refusing to invest in comprehensive sex education and birth control because we, too, don't plan ahead," New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes.

Kristof continues that he is "bewildered that American politicians ... don't adequately invest at home or abroad in birth-control programs that would save the government money, chip away at poverty, reduce abortions and empower young people." Specifically, Kristof notes that while "Medicaid spends an average of $12,770 for a birth," the U.S. "spend[s] only $8 per teenage girl on programs to avoid pregnancy," adding, "In financial terms, that's nuts. In human terms, it's a tragedy."

Kristof writes about the benefits of long-acting reversible contraceptives, but he notes that while the "Affordable Care Act [PL 111-148] provides free access to all forms of contraception ... many pediatricians aren't trained in inserting LARCs." He adds that the U.S. "need[s] more women's health clinics, yet, instead, some are being closed as casualties of abortion wars."

He urges "states and schools ... [to] embrace comprehensive sex education, teaching contraception, the benefits of delaying sex and, also, the responsibility of boys." Meanwhile, a "starting point for the United States should be to rebuild Title X spending on family planning," Kristof writes (Kristof, New York Times, 11/12).