NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota

What is Choice?

Abortion
Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Emergency Contraception
Reproductive Justice

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What is Choice?

Being pro-choice means protecting women's access to safe, legal abortion. It also means working on ways to help reduce the need for abortion, like improving access to birth control and sex education. The term also encompasses supporting women who choose to carry their pregnancies to term.

At present, the choice conflicts in Minnesota focus on abortion, crisis pregnancy centers, emergency contraception, and reproductive justice. 

Read on to learn more about the other essential aspects of choice. 


BIRTH CONTROL


Improving access to birth control is at the forefront of our efforts to prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion. For the 98 percent of American women who use some form of contraception during their lives, birth control is basic, essential health care. More than 40 million women of reproductive age are sexually active and want to prevent unintended pregnancy. [Guttmacher Institute, Facts in Brief: Contraceptive Use (Feb. 2005)]

Unfortunately, 40 years after the Supreme Court struck down a ban on birth control, the far right still tries to block women’s access to contraception. Below are just a few examples of the obstacles to improving women’s access to birth control.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute estimates that subsidized family planning services in Minnesota prevents 23,600 pregnancies each year. The availability of family planning services prevents unintended pregnancy and abortion, and saves the government substantial Medicaid costs (Forrest & Samara, 1996).

Emergency Contraception
Emergency contraception, also known as the "morning-after" pill, is simply a concentrated dose of ordinary birth-control pills. If taken within 72 hours of sex, it is highly effective in preventing pregnancy. It is especially critical for survivors of sexual assault or for women whose primary method of birth control fails.

Family-Planning Services
A good family-planning program will ensure that women have access to contraception and that they can raise healthy, happy families when they choose to do so. However, opponents of family planning doing everything possible to block women from getting those basic preventive services.

Access to Prescription Birth Control at Pharmacy Counters
In theory, the concept is simple: a woman walks into a pharmacy with her prescription and walks out with her medicine. However, renegade pharmacists across the country are refusing to fill legal, valid prescriptions for birth control and state legislators are proposing bills that would permit this discrimination against women.


SEX EDUCATION

NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota strongly supports medically accurate, age -appropriate, comprehensive sexuality education programs as a vital part of any adolescent pregnancy prevention and health promotion effort.


Medically accurate, comprehensive sex education that includes lessons on abstinence and prevention helps ensure adolescents have the skills they need to make informed, responsible life decisions for years to come.

Programs that teach only abstinence-until-marriage while ignoring important lessons on sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy prevention do a disservice to our youth and leave them vulnerable to negative health consequences. Abstinence-only does not prevent adolescents from having sex; it only prevents them from receiving the knowledge they will need to protect their health if they do become sexually active.

Sex Ed Works
Numerous studies have shown that comprehensive sexuality education is an effective strategy in providing adolescents with the "tools, knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values to make responsible choices about their sexual health."1,2

Comprehensive sexuality education programs that teach about both "abstinence and contraception, including condoms, do not increase sexual activity among teens; rather such programs often delay first intercourse, reduce the frequency of sex and reduce the number of sexual partners." 1,2
 
Minnesota Parents Want Comprehensive Sexuality Education
A recent University of Minnesota survey found that:

  • 88% of parents want comprehensive sexuality education programs that encourage abstinence while also providing information on how to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to be taught in all schools.
  • 90% of parents want all schools to teach about how to prevent a pregnancy, birth control pills, condoms, family planning, and the role of preventing pregnancy and STIs.
  • 100% of parents say that all health information provided in sexuality education classes should be medically accurate. 

Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs Do Not Work

A recent Minnesota Department of Health evaluation of the state’s abstinence-only program, ENABL, found that sexual activity doubled among junior high school participants in the program at three schools between 2001 and 2002. The number of participants who said they would "probably" have sex during high school almost doubled as well. Although it found some positive effects on parent-teen communication, the study found no positive impact of the ENABL program on teen sexual behavior. 3,4

NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota strongly supports medically accurate, age-appropriate, comprehensive sexuality education programs as a vital part of any adolescent pregnancy prevention and health promotion effort.

1. Kirby, D. Emerging Answers: research findings on programs to reduce teen pregnancy. Washington, D.C.: National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2001. 
2. Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting. Fact sheet, 2006. 
3. Healthy Youth Development Prevention Research Center. Division of Adolescent Health & Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, March 2007.
4. Professional Data Analysts, Inc. and Professional Evaluation Services, Minnesota Education Now and Babies Later Evaluation Report 1998-2002 (Minneapolis: Minnesota Department of Health, January 2004).


HEALTHY PREGNANCIES

The Problem

Some anti-choice politicians talk about "respecting life," but the way they vote doesn't square with this view. A major anti-choice organization even opposed the Children's Health Insurance Program, a federal program that provides millions of children with access to basic health care.

Anti-choice politicians not only want to take decisions away from women; they also refuse to help women who choose to continue their pregnancies. That's hypocritical.

Our Solution
We can't let anti-choice groups get away with their hypocrisy. We can do a lot to help women have healthy pregnancies. Being pro-choice is about supporting women in making the decisions that are best for them and their families.

  • Quality prenatal care is so important. That's the best way to achieve a healthy pregnancy.
  • Some moms and their families need additional help accessing health care, and that's why family-planning programs are so important.
  • Individuals and couples who choose adoption also deserve support and resources.
 
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