We like to issue some reminders now and then about some common discourses regarding teen pregnancy. We often have a LOT to say about those, but one of the core issues that comes up is the idea that high rates of teen pregnancy are largely due to ignorance about contraception.
Setting aside the matter that teen pregnancy is often assumed to be exclusively unplanned or unwanted (it’s not), in reality, while lack of understanding about proper contraceptive use is certainly one factor, access to contraceptives in the first place, and consistently, is another huge one, so is sexual agency (and youth rights and agency more broadly), and certainly access to abortion.
For that reason we always encourage you to look into the stance on support for all reproductive choices at any site or organization you link or refer others to for information about pregnancy or contraceptives. Some very visible sites and orgs are not fully pro-choice and do not include or even mention abortion in their information, or, if they do, like the American Pregnancy Association, for example, include misinformation about abortion and links to “information” or “help” are links to CPCs.
As well, sound, broad research done about teen pregnancy (we really like Kristen Luker for this topic, a nearly flawless researcher who has done a great job avoiding the usual biases) has shown that socioeconomic factors and the impact of those factors — read: poverty — are really the biggest player here. Far more so than knowing about or knowing how to use contraception.
So, by all means, having accurate, in-depth information about how to prevent unwanted pregnancy or parenting is vitally important: we obviously think so as an organization. But so is being careful none of us obscure the larger picture here or unwittingly support anyone or any initiative that may be acting counter to helping young people who do not want to become or remain pregnant.
Pro-tip: Abortion is — literally — birth control. If and when sites or orgs with birth control information and apparent support for birth control or preventing unwanted pregnancy don’t include or mention it? Look deeper and ask questions.
Special attention to the bold. We must be careful not to coerce any woman into any direction when does not want to go. Providing balanced information is key, as is supporting her final decision as shameless.