by Senator Ross Romero
Senate District 7
I am writing on the heels of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Gonzales v. Carhart. While I firmly believe that the life and health of the mother should be considered in the analysis of the very difficult decision of an abortion, I believe we are missing an opportunity to have a broader, more important discussion which is the prevention of unwanted pregnancies.
I recently became reacquainted with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (www.teenpregnancy.org) whose mission is to assist young women in avoiding getting pregnant. This, of course, requires a discussion not only in teaching abstinence as a preferred form of unwanted pregnancies but also having a responsible discussion centered around using protection when teens become sexually active. My understanding is most teens begin to engage in sexual activity at age 14. Therefore, it is incumbent on parents to have discussions with their kids about abstinence and also protection issues before this age. Unwanted pregnancies have a tremendous impact on an individual’s opportunities in life and socioeconomic status.
It is important to note that teen pregnancy is 100% preventable. When one in three teens becomes pregnant by the age of 20 and teen childbearing costs tax payers at least $9.1 billion annually, this is an issue that affects us all and our communities. I believe we need to be more diligent in encouraging sex education discussions by parents with their teens and the responsible use of protection to continue to decrease unwanted pregnancies.
Finally, I want to encourage parents to take away from this discussion having their teens, and especially young women participate in athletics in junior high and high school. As I understand it, most pregnancies occur between the hours of 3:30 and 6:00 p.m. when our youth are left without adult supervision. If our youth and particularly our young women are engaged in organized athletic activities, they build self-esteem, have the friendship of peers, set goals and delay being sexually active.