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Law may reduce teen pregnancy
New law eases teen access to birth control meds, devices
A new state law will allow easier access to birth control and medical devices, and officials say it may lead to a drop in teen pregnancy rates.
“We do anticipate some of these teen pregnancy numbers to decrease,” said Pedro Elias, the director of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte which covers Stanislaus County.
AB 2348, also known as the Access to Birth Control Bill, was introduced by Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles. It was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Sept. 22 and went into effect Jan. 1.
It allows registered nurses to dispense birth control medication, including pills, patches, and rings, with a prescription from a physician assistant, a nurse midwife or a nurse practitioner without a pelvic exam.
Previously, the medication could only be issued upon a doctor’s order. The law requires that within a three year period of receiving the contraception a woman must have a full exam. The exam-free part of the law does not sit well with local registered nurse and physician assistant Kasey Swafford.
“It’s a bad idea. It’s just the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, they don’t know they have them,” said Swafford.
According to Pastor Dale Seaman, of Calvary Baptist Church in Porterville, contraception use has compounded the problem of teen pregnancy.
“Using it to go around God’s plan is wrong,” said Seaman last week. Seaman said birth control use for married couples is OK.
In Tulare County, teen pregnancy rates continue to be high. According to the most recent numbers from the California Department of Public Health, Tulare County once again led the state with 60.4 births per 1,000 females for 15- to 19-year-olds.
The lack of abstinence education, according to Trish Tipton, the director of the Porterville Pregnancy Resource Center, may be one of a few factors causing the high pregnancy rate.
“There’s not very much for outreach as far as teens at school, and there’s not very much abstinence [education] available,” said Tipton on Wednesday.
Abstinence education, according to Tipton, encompasses waiting until the age of 18 and being in a monogamous relationship.
“There’s so much more to a relationship than sex, which is just an added benefit,” said Tipton.
In Tulare County, programs such as Teen Success are available through ACT for Women and Girls, a local non-profit group based in Visalia.
“We just recently started a teen mom’s support group in October,” said Lisa Alvarado, the program manager for ACT for Women and Girls. Teen Success meets twice a week for 48 weeks and is targeted toward high school girls who are pregnant or are mothers. Parenting information on certain topics, such as how to deal with kids being in the toddler stage, is provided. Alvarado also said the group helps the moms finish high school. Teen Success is available in Farmersville. According to Alvarado, they are thinking of starting one in Tulare.
Local churches have also addressed the issue.
Seaman addresses the topic of sex and abstinence through his youth ministry.
“We teach it [sex] as a very beautiful part of marriage,” said Seaman.
For more information on ACT for Women and Girls visit http://www.actulareco.org/ and for more information on services available in Tulare County visit http://www.tularehhsa.org.
Contact Emily Shapiro at 784-5000, ext. 1050, or on Twitter @EmilyShapirogar.