Columbia, SC — Safe. Legal. Rare. Bill Clinton’s simple policy for how we should approach abortion has been amazingly sticky. The best way to side step the whole issue, Clinton and others for whom this formulation appeals, is to prevent the need for an abortion in the first place.
This seems obvious enough, right?
As we recognize the 41st anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision that declared unconstitutional a law that banned most abortions, we should take more seriously this charge to educate young people about how their bodies work and how to avoid unintended pregnancies and, thus, abortions.
According to S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, 5,532 15-to-19-year-olds gave birth in 2012, and 17 percent of teen pregnancies ended in abortion. While our state has reduced the teen birth rate by 47 percent since 1992, we cannot confuse progress with victory.
If we want to reduce unintended pregnancies, we need to pass the healthy youth amendment to the S.C. Comprehensive Health Education Act, which would ensure school districts’ accountability to the law, adequate teacher training and medically accurate instructional material in comprehensive health-education classes.
Comprehensive sexual-health education, which both emphasizes abstinence and provides information on contraceptives, gives young people the tools they need to make informed and healthier decisions about their own behaviors.
A study from Journal of Adolescent Health shows that teens who receive information about both abstinence and contraception are more likely than those who receive no formal sex education to delay sexual activity and to use contraceptives when they do have sex.
Moreover, a comprehensive sexual-health education can inform decision making throughout a person’s life, not just during youth.
Clearly, investing in prevention and educating young people on how to prevent pregnancy would reduce the number of abortions in our state.
I urge you to visit tellthemsc.org for more information on the healthy youth amendment (H.3435) and to join our network, where you can receive updates on issues such as sexual-health-education reform and opportunities to contact your elected officials.
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