Working with foster and at-risk youth, teen pregnancies remain one of the biggest barriers to obtaining sustainable employment, completing secondary education and pursuing higher education. Currently, teenage mothers in the child welfare system face some of the poorest outcomes. In addition, children of youth in foster care are 5 times more likely to end up in foster care, themselves. Defunding the largest organization providing education and pregnancy prevention services will only increase the percentage of young people relegated into poverty, not only in this generation but also for generations to come.
According to Planned Parenthood's 2014 Annual Report, their services provide over 5 million women, child and adolescents information on topics ranging from sexual health to pregnancy prevention. In addition, their services prevent approximately 216,000 abortions and 515,000 pregnancies from happening. Likely in large part due to many of these services, teenage birth, pregnancy and abortion rates are at their lowest points in 20 years.
Often those opposing Planned Parenthood state, 95 percent of Planned Parenthood pregnancy services go toward abortions. This statistic twists the data, hiding the full picture, because while abortions make up 95 percent of pregnancy services, abortions only consist of 3 percent of Planned Parenthood's total provision of services. More than anything else, Planned Parenthood designs their services to ensure sexual health and prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions.
Often, we create policies as reactions to events -- such as those recently seen at Planned Parenthood -- ignoring the possible unintended consequences. In the case of Planned Parenthood, facing those possibilities is necessary. A question to those defunding Planned Parenthood: how will you continue the prevention of pregnancy and provision of necessary sexual health services for people living in poverty? Without other solutions, the consequences of defunding Planned Parenthood include subjugating more men, women and children to poverty, forcing more children into the child welfare system and destining many of them to poor outcomes.
Planned Parenthood's defunding will create more burden on our population and our systems, forcing already overpopulated welfare systems to bear the burden of increasing need. We already live in a world where many of these systems are failing our most vulnerable. Do we want to fail them even more?