Group calls for expanding access to birth control in schools

Group calls for expanding access to birth control in schools
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A new analysis from pro-abortion-rights group the Guttmacher Institute calls for expanding access to contraception at school health centers, finding that fewer than 4 in 10 currently provide such services. 

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The study finds 37 percent of school based health centers, which are expanded versions of a typical nurses office, offer male condoms, and 26 percent offer oral contraceptive pills. 

“School-based health centers can play a key role in addressing teen pregnancy, and failing to provide contraceptive services on-site, for whatever reason, is self-defeating,” Heather Boonstra, author of the analysis, said in a statement. “We know contraception has been the main driver of the steep decline in the U.S. teen pregnancy rate, which is why it’s so important to give students easy access to the information and services they need.”

A main obstacle the study cites is that about half of the country’s 1,900 school-based health centers are prohibited from giving out contraceptives by state or local governments. 

The prohibitions have been on the decline, though, down from almost 80 percent of school health centers in 1998. 

The study also calls on Congress to provide more funding for the centers. The federal funding solely designated for school based health centers expired in 2013 after being appropriated by ObamaCare in 2010. 

Guttmacher points to a bill from Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) that would reauthorize the funding through 2019. 

The analysis seeks to address objections to teen contraceptive use by arguing parents should be involved, and there is no evidence contraceptive access increases the rates of teen sex. 

The teen pregnancy rate has declined to its lowest level in 40 years, at 57 per 1,000 women, the study says.

“This is overwhelmingly due to improved contraceptive use and use of more effective methods,” it adds.