Florida ranks among the top five states with the highest abortion rates. Planned Parenthood of Tallahassee and the National Organization for Women are pushing for the Prevention First Act to pass in hopes of changing these statistics.
The goal of the Prevention First Act, sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is to address the issues of unintended pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted infections through increasing the access to information and services.
Planned Parenthood’s Web site stated that 89 percent of adults want more options when it comes to family planning, 81 percent said access should not be limited based on income, and 85 percent support all-inclusive sex-education versus just abstinence being taught.
Barbara Shackelford, director of the Woman’s Pregnancy Center in Tallahassee, stressed the importance of education as a form of prevention, saying that girls need to be taught self esteem, self worth and how to set boundaries.
“We abandon our values when we say, ‘Hey, kids are going to have sex,’ ” Shackelford said.
Elena Mlotkowski, 20, a junior FSU-FAMU co-op student majoring in advertising, said part of the problem results from women choosing not to use contraceptives.
“I think in general, girls are educated enough to know to use contraceptives,” said Mlotkowski, from Lake Mary. “Whether or not they actually use them in every situation is the problem.”
The Guttmacher Institute, a corporation that works to advance sexual and reproductive health through public education, policy analysis and research, reported that close to half of all pregnancies in America are not planned, and four out of 10 of these are aborted.
The Institute also reported that 50 percent of the women getting abortions are under 25 years old, and black women are 4.8 times more likely to have an abortion than non-Hispanic or white women. Hispanic women are also 2.7 times more likely to have an abortion. Fifty-four percent of the women who had abortions were also using contraceptives (a condom or the pill), the report said.
Instead of simply increasing the availability of contraceptives to girls, some believe we should be asking how well the contraceptives are working.
Shackelford said a lot of the girls who come in to the center are on birth control; however, birth control and the emergency contraceptive pill are “giving a false sense of security and not protecting against sexually transmitted diseases.”
Shackelford, who sees about 500 to 600 students annually, also said, “25 percent of our adolescent females have an active STD, and it’s twice as high for African American females.”