Every year more than 750,000 American teens become pregnant, and over 80 percent of these pregnancies are unplanned. That may be about to change. If teens take to the latest wave of birth control technologies the way they’ve taken to cell phones, unplanned pregnancy could go the way of landlines and stretchy handset cords.
On October 2, the American Academy of Pediatrics published updated practice guidelines for medical providers serving adolescent patients. The new guidelines endorse three kinds of long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) including state-of-the-art IUDs and implants that are total game changers when it comes to unintended teen pregnancy.
These methods have been slow to arrive in the United States, largely because of an early defective IUD that caused infection and injury during the 1970’s, traumatizing women, doctors, and regulators. But since that time, later generations of long acting contraceptives have become the norm in other countries. No one method works for everyone, and any contraceptive decision requires that a young woman and her medical provider weigh any risks of a given method against other methods or none at all, meaning the health and life risks of pregnancy. Nevertheless, in 2012, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists finally gave long acting contraceptives a strong endorsement for Americans including young single women. Since then research has been piling up, confirming that LARC methods are safe and effective for teens.
In St. Louis between 2008 and 2013, 9000 women including 1400 teens were offered the contraceptive of their choice at no cost, and 72 percent chose a LARC. Teen pregnancy and abortion rates plummeted. This summer a teen pregnancy prevention program in Colorado announced equally impressive results. Between 2009 and 2013, Colorado’s teen pregnancy rate dropped 40 percent, with 75 percent of the decrease coming from areas in which low- or no-cost LARCS had been made available through public clinics. The program, funded by a $23 million grant from an anonymous donor, saved the state $42 million in teen-pregnancy related health care costs in 2010 alone, including a decrease of 35% in abortion procedures. And whether we measure the benefits in terms of flourishing families or state budgets, that’s just the beginning.
Here is why a little bit of “intrauterine bling” or “bicep bling” can make such a difference:
Think of fertility as an on/off switch. When a female hits adolescence, her defaut setting toggles to ON. For the next four decades, over 400 cycles, if she doesn’t want to get pregnant she will have to keep switching it back off or else use some kind of sperm barrier whenever she has sex. Pills and condoms work pretty well if they’re used perfectly—but who’s perfect? In the real world, 1 in 11 women relying on the Pill gets pregnant each year, and 1 in 8 couples counting on condoms ends up facing a big surprise. For sexually active teens the statistics are worse.
Don’t go looking down your nose or wagging your finger. Condoms may be a decent fit for the average penis, but every-day and every-time contraceptives are a rotten fit for the human brain. In technical terms, they get a big fat “D” on human factors engineering. To be sure, condoms are the best thing we have going to prevent sexually transmitted infections, and they’re way, way better than nothing when it comes to preventing pregnancy. But people wait too long or leave them on too long, or stretch them too tight, and they sometimes slip; and then, to quote Lena Dunham’s hilarious scene in Girls, there’s “the stuff that gets up around the sides of condoms.”
As for the Pill, it’s almost impossible for ordinary imperfect human beings to take any medication at the same time every day for weeks and months and years and decades on end. Forgetfulness, fights, finances—you name it—life provides an endless grab bag of distractions and barriers, to the point that only fifteen percent of women miss three or fewer pills each month. (It’s not just you, and like I said before, teens are even worse at it.)
Again, in the real world, pills are far more effective at reducing pregnancy and STI’s than alternatives like withdrawal, barriers, fertility monitoring, or abstinence commitments. But, Pills simply don’t compare to “set and forget” methods like IUD’s and implants that toggle the fertility switch to OFF for 3-12 years at a time, or until a woman feels ready for a baby.
No one method works for everyone, and each LARC has an adjustment phase, but once things are settled into place, the annual pregnancy rate drops below 1 in 500 for the least effective, the copper IUD. For the most effective, the implant, that number is one in 2000. Compare that to the 1 in 5 annual pregnancy rate for young couples using withdrawal or the 4 in 5 pregnancy rate for those counting on crossed fingers. The difference means young women (and young men!) can dream big and then put their energy into pursuing those dreams rather than angsting about missed periods.
Speaking of Aunt Flo, shorter, lighter, fewer periods is one of the reasons that some teens are opting for a LARC even before they become sexually active. Heavy cramps and bleeding are a top reason teen girls miss school, but a hormonal IUD reduces cramps and bleeding by, on average, 90 percent by the end of the first year. For a girl with problem periods that can make the difference between regular attendance and chronic absenteeism. For a young athlete it can be a literal game changer. And given that most youth are sexually active for six months before seeking birth control, non-contraceptive benefits like these can open up timely conversations about reproductive health before the first scare or accidental pregnancy.
Today even teens who do use birth control rely mostly on older, less effective methods; only 4.5 percent have a LARC. But health providers and even schools are working to get out the word about new options and to make better birth control accessible for all. If they succeed, more young women will be using their cell phones to text friends about homework assignments instead of abortion services or maternity care. Having a big thumbs up—and some actual practice guidelines—from the top professional organization of U.S. pediatricians can only help.
Originally published at AwayPoint
Join us in our #BoycottMicrosoft Black Friday Mourning Picket! The Badass Teachers of WA are calling on everyone who cares about the future.
Come prepared to:
Carry a light for every child who didn’t get the attention their teacher wanted to give them because of criminal underfunding of schools.
Mourn the learning opportunities lost in our classrooms because of tax loopholes.
Mourn the loss of revenue for our most vulnerable citizens while protesting tax loopholes given to the wealthy.
Microsoft is shirking their responsibility for meeting society’s needs and putting the tax burden on the backs of workers, thus perpetuating inequality (while profiting at record levels).
We MOURN economic fairness. But we have hope. We have a clear struggle ahead of us and we have solidarity.
Microsoft owes $8.16 billion to our state from tax years 1997-2014 (according to investigative journalism by Crosscut. The article link with the facts is below).
The time is NOW to call the public’s attention to the reality of our most vulnerable citizens; Washington legislators are in contempt of court for not meeting our own state constitution’s paramount duty to fully fund basic education. Microsoft has helped this travesty along.
Safety net programs will be on the chopping block this legislative session because of false choices. State funded programs should not be fighting each other for scarce resources when corporations like Microsoft enjoy huge tax gifts year after year.
***Wear black, bring flashlights or other lights to carry in solidarity as we picket the overpass between the East and West Microsoft campuses.
***Join educators, health care workers, public servants and concerned citizens to protest the perpetual under-funding of public schools, basic health and other state programs that improve the quality of life for EVERYONE.
***Signs & artful resistance messages will be available for you.
LOCATION: Park at Overlake Transit Center, just a block from the overpass: 15590 Northeast 36th Street
Redmond, WA 98052. Follow the signs to the picket.
The picket theme is similar to a funeral procession:
We MOURN lost revenue, lost lives and lost learning opportunities to corporate greed.
We are public servants in MOURNING of amply funded classrooms and safety nets. Because the legislature relies on regressive sales taxes paid by families who NEED to buy cheap this one day of the year, we protest the growing riches of the 1% while poverty is on the rise.
Attendees will demand:
1. Microsoft pay back taxes owed from their manipulation of licensing laws and moving certain financial operations out of state specifically to avoid their tax responsibility.
2. The public boycott Microsoft products including: Microsoft Office, Minecraft, Surface Tablets, Windows, Xbox, Skype, & Nokia phones until Microsoft pays their fair share for Washington State services.
3. Legislators reform tax laws! Each and every legislator swore to uphold their paramount duty when they were sworn into office. Demand legislators change revenue policies to eliminate tax loopholes for corporations. Fully fund basic education. Support students, teachers, small class sizes, and all workers in Washington with a fair budget and sustainable revenue. Support our most vulnerable citizens across the state.
“We can conservatively estimate Microsoft’s savings from lobbying and dodging the state royalty tax between 1997 and 2014 at $5.34 billion. If we factor in interest and the Department of Revenue’s typical 25 percent penalty on unpaid corporate taxes, that number jumps to $8.16 billion”.
“The sophistication with which these men have manipulated the law and enforcement in Olympia has tremendously harmed our state and our schools, and undermined constructive dialogue over tax fairness. Ballmer and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos both fought the progressive income tax in 2010. In 2012, Smith suggested raising the sales tax was the best approach to fund education.”
“Since this is the same state government whose auditors scoured Yelp listings to collect taxes from dance clubs while ignoring billions in tax breaks to Microsoft and Boeing, it’s likely the court will need to firmly guide the Legislature’s hand to prevent them from making the most regressive tax system in the country any worse.”
Read the entire article here:
Where are Washington’s K-12 dollars? Just ask Microsoft shareholders
And on the national scale they admit to avoiding paying $29.6 Billion in taxes by hoarding them off-shore:
Microsoft Admits Keeping $92 Billion Offshore to Avoid Paying $29 Billion in U.S. Taxes
Visit the picket’s facebook page and sign up.
Someone on another site said he doesn’t know any liberals who WANT to vote for Hillary in 2016 other than the fact that she’s less objectionable to any Republican candidate.I am a liberal, and I will happily pull the lever voting for Hillary in 2016. And I’ll tell you why.
Because she is a woman, and its time we had a female President. Full stop.
Because she is tough and I can’t see Republicans walking all over her like they have Obama for the past six years.
Because I personally like her.
And because she drives Republicans insane. They won’t be able to control themselves, they will go full misogyny. And they will turn off every female voter with half a functioning brain cell, much as they have done so with Hispanics and African-Americans by going full racist the last 6 years. And womenfolk are 51% of the electorate. Republicans will merely engineer their own defeat a decade earlier than they would have.
There are between six and fourteen vulnerable Republican Senators up for re-election in 2016. We need a Democratic wave election to wipe out as many of them as possible. Hillary is beloved by a large swath of the country and really is the only candidate who could create a wave election.
Although a lot of liberals will only vote for her while holding their nose, we all will do so (much as the Republicans voted for Romney) because the alternative of having a Republican appoint additional Scalitos to the Supreme Court is far, far worse.
Yes, if Warren or Sanders had a reasonable shot, I guess they’d be my preferred candidates, but every poll I have seen has them both losing to Generic Republican, while Hillary is able to defeat most Republicans in places like Georgia and Arizona. Neither Warren or Sanders stands a chance in a general election, and I’m sorry, but that’s just how it is right now until the country changes demographically.
When you sacrifice pragmatism (picking the candidate who will most likely win) in favor of ideology (picking the most ideologically pure candidate no matter what), you are going to end up like the Tea Party. Go look at the times that an ideologically pure candidate won their party’s nomination in 1964 and 1972 and 1984. The results have not been pretty. Romney managed to get enough moderates to vote for him in 2012 so that historically he will look like a credible candidate, but imagine if the GOP decided to go full ideology and nominate Santorum. Polls show that Santorum would have lost to Obama by around 10 to 13 points. Romney actually lost by 4. Santorum, had he only lost by 10 would have lost Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska CD2, North Carolina, and South Carolina. In real life, Obama won 332 electoral votes to Romney’s 206. A Santorum “pure ideological” campaign would result in an Electoral Vote count of 411 Obama to 127 Santorum.
When people on here and elsewhere state they want Warren or Sanders to run, they don’t understand how politics and voting works in this country right now. They are unwittingly saying “I want to lose the 2016 election so I can vote for my preferred candidate”, because that’s how winner-take-all elections work. I know this sucks, but you have to vote strategically or your vote ends up being irrelevant and your preferred “perfect” candidate loses.
Now, I’ve presented this argument to the ideologically faithful, especially those that profess to habitually vote third party, and they have always come back with some statement to the effect that if you let Republicans run the government, they will do such a poor job that their preferred candidate or party will win next time. That also is short-sighted and fundamentally wrong. People said that in 1980 when Reagan ran and look what happened. For the next 30 years we’ve had to deal with the mess he created. People said that in 2000 when Bush Jr ran and look what happened. We’re probably going to have to deal with a destablized Middle East for the next 20 years, not to mention the death toll of 9/11, two wars, and 18,000 plus Americans dying every year from lack of health insurance.
On top of the sheer death toll resulting from an incompetent presidency, the ideologically pure don’t understand that just because one party fails does not mean that the extreme of the other party (or a third party) is going to be embraced by the electorate. The voters by and large will vote for the least extreme candidate of the other party, even after a disastrous presidency. Dennis Kucinich was not going to win against McCain in 2008, sorry. Again, we are dealing with ideologues who believe the country to be they way they want it to be, and don’t understand that their belief does not equate with reality.
On its current trajectory, the Republican party will commit demographic suicide somewhere around 2024. It is vital that Democrats keep control of the White House until then. Hillary is the most likely candidate to be able to accomplish that. The country IS changing to accept the vision of men and women like Sanders and Warren, but it isn’t there yet. We have to run a candidate acceptable to the majority of the overall electorate until such a time that someone ideologically to the left of Hillary can actually win a national election.
I know this point of view probably isn’t popular, but it is reality, and life isn’t always fair. In politics, you don’t always get 100% of what you want. You are going to have to hold your nose and vote for Hillary (or happily vote for her like I will) in order to win elections and keep the country from going into the toilet. Or you can ignore my advice and vote for Sanders or Warren, who weaken Hillary (or drive her ideologically leftward, which is the same result) and let the Republicans win in the general election. Or vote third party and let the Republicans win in the general election.
Vote strategically, not ideologically.