Don’t like Plan B? Try Plan C.

In light of the recent federal activity about Plan B, the emergency birth control pill and the moral back-and-forth about its use, it is probably not by too surprising that I found this fantastic article on the Atlantic about an alternative method for reducing teenage pregnancy.

I had (embarrassingly) never thought about this proposal before, which is why I found it so exciting: To reduce teen pregnancy, focus on economic opportunity for women and girls.

If we really want to combat teen childbearing, we need to present girls at risk of becoming pregnant with an attractive alternative. It is not enough to offer them contraception and to explain to how to use it. We need to convince them that they want to use it; that they and their children will be better off if they wait to become mothers. Even more challenging: We need that message to be true.

Part of the problem is that teenage girls, particularly those from low-income environments, see themselves as having very few options for their life. They don’t see women in or from their neighborhoods postponing having children, or perhaps choosing not to have children and having a successful life independently. The article sites ethnographic research that

Facing limited education and job prospects, as well as a slim chance of finding a suitable man to marry, some low-income girls simply ask, “Why not have a baby now?”

I think the big challenge lies in what the first quote stated: we need that message of an alternative to pregnancy to be true.  In order to make it true, more work needs to be done than increasing economic opportunities in a girl’s area.

As those teenage girls grow up to be women, the economic odds are stacked against them. Woman still earn less than their male counterparts and for many women to succeed they have to twist themselves to fit the dominant social contract. No wonder some people can not function in it. No wonder our society is plagued with such ‘ailments’ as teen pregnancy.

The solution, then, is about more than just the choice of one girl and needs more purposeful actions than moral judgment or mere education. It calls for a broader revision of this ill-fitting social contract.

What do you think about this article?  What do you think about the conclusions?  How do you think this revision could take place?

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