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Ohio Legislation Aims to Curb Unwanted Teen Pregnancies

September 30, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio - While new legislation at the Ohio Statehouse is intended to prevent teenage pregnancies, some say it will benefit the state's children as well. The "Ohio Prevention First Act" requires that insurance companies cover prescription birth control if they cover other prescriptions. It would also improve women's access to emergency contraception and ensure that students receive comprehensive, accurate sex education.

Crystal Ward Allen is executive director of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio. In her experience in the field of child welfare, she sees a cycle of correlations between unintended pregnancies, unprepared parents, and greater obstacles for children.

"About one-third of all the child welfare cases had children born to teens. Children born to teens are more likely to be reported to the child abuse system. Those kids are more likely to end up in foster care; and foster youth are more likely to be teen parents."

Ward Allen thinks the legislation would help to break that cycle by preventing unintended pregnancies. She also believes teens should hear a clear and coordinated message about sex from adults, whether it's their parents, mentors, teachers, coaches or faith based-institutions. The reality, she says, is that some kids are having sex, which makes it essential to teach them about how to develop healthy relationships and protect their bodies.

"Young people should abstain from and delay sex. They should understand sex has consequences, and how biology works, and they should be prepared with good contraceptive and STD prevention information - so that when they do have sex, they'll be having safe sex."

Ohio was recently ranked 48th in the nation for accessibility to reproductive health services by the Coalition for Family Health. Opponents of the legislation claim it will drive up the cost of health insurance and force some pharmacists to provide emergency contraception despite their personal moral or religious objections.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH