Pregnant, parenting, and nonparenting youth must have access to culturally relevant and gender-sensitive sexual and reproductive health services and educational, material, economic, and emotional support
Education and reproductive health care are equally important to the success of young families and while government rulings, lawsuits, and appeals around Title X may dominate the headlines today, let’s not forget the young parents who will ultimately suffer or benefit because of decisions made by people far removed from their stories, stories that ACR 201 seeks to bring to life and inform policy decisions.
Title X’s subrecipients are primarily low-income people, adolescents make up 25% of the people receiving benefits from Title X, and Title X is the only national family planning program in the US.
The new Title X formula developed by the Trump Administration prescribes meaningful family communication for an adolescent’s family planning, protection of women and children from victimization, and gives providers conscience protection by eliminating the requirement to council and refer a patient for abortion unless the condition is deemed medically necessary.
To withhold information on what is essentially a whim, is to hold power over the patient thus women and children can’t be protected from victimization if they aren’t presented with ALL of their options, including abortion. The ruling also doesn’t consider young families and parents under 18 who don’t have parental support, nor does it give underage parenting youth the autonomy to make decisions for their own bodies and families.
74% of nonpregnant participants in the Teen Success are using birth control and 95% of them are living in poverty, it stands to reason that they would be counting on public assistance and organizations funded by Title X to obtain family planning resources.
Too often, our nation celebrates a significant decline in the national teen birth rate without considering the significant disparities that exist for young women of color. Since Title X program’s inception in the 70s, teen birth rates, ages 15-19, fell to 18.0 births to females per 1000 in 2016, but this number doesn’t tell the whole story. Every day in California, 60 teenagers become mothers, and every year in California there are over 20,000 births to women in their teens. The numbers of births to teen women of color living in poverty are disproportionally higher than the national average. In Santa Clara County’s San Jose zip codes, 95116, 95110, 95122, and 95111 births to females ages 15-19 are 245.9, 238.7, 229.3, and 187.0 per 1000 respectively (Santa Clara County, The Health Status of Children Executive Summary, 2016) .
The downturn in teen pregnancy made possible in part through the funding of Title X is being threatened today and concern is on the rise that the trend will be reversed if the changes made to Title X are not challenged and overturned in the courts. The consequences of funding or not funding Title X and the changes to what Title X funds can and will be used for today hold tremendous weight for the lives pregnant and parenting youth of color. For a teen in any zip code like the ones above, the risk to their families and communities could be catastrophic.
One day a year on August 25, California Young Parents Day, is not enough to recognize the struggles and triumphs of young parents, but it is a start – it is a catalyst for conversations about reproductive justice for families across the nation.
3 Ways to Get Involved
Our individual actions are more important than ever. If you believe in education and opportunity for young parents, then investing in them and in Teen Success, Inc. is one way to move the needle, here are three ways to get involved on CA Young Parents Day.
On California Young Parents Day, Teen Success, Inc. reaffirms our commitment to empower young mothers to reach their full potential at school, as parents, and as important members of their communities.
At Teen Success, Inc. we have seen firsthand the transformational power of a young mother’s love and the possibility of meeting that love with resources and opportunity. We also acknowledge that there is much more work to do and resources and opportunities are scarce.
We will continue to provide the supports and opportunities necessary for young mothers and their children to thrive. We will empower them with comprehensive reproductive health education to make choices for their own reproductive health and for the well-being of their families. We will also provide them with educational navigation and resource brokering so that they may reach their educational goals, starting with their high school graduation.
Learn more about Teen Success, Inc.’s program for young parenting and pregnant teens.
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The mission of Teen Success, Inc. is to help underserved teen mothers and their children become educated, self-sufficient, valued members of society.
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