When thinking about Christmas, you can't help but think of the most unplanned pregnancy of all. Mary and Joseph probably felt a lot of the same emotions that our clients feel as they walk in our doors. Until you work directly in the industry, you may have a lot of preconceived opinions about the topic of unplanned pregnancies and questions about those who find themselves in that position. How often does it happen? Are they all young teenagers? Is it only one ethnic group? Only rural areas? Lower income? Churched or unchurched? Hopefully, this will shed some light on the topic.
Over 50% of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. That is larger than any peer country. The most common ages are 18-24. In fact, 75% of all teen pregnancies are 18 and 19 year olds. She is equally churched and unchurched. She crosses all socio-economic backgrounds. In fact, by the time women end their child- bearing years, one in three women will also have an abortion (as reported by the CDC). Unplanned pregnancies do not discriminate and can happen in any home from the most broken of homes to the most well-adjusted and fully intact homes.
Why is it happening so much you might wonder? We know young people are physically maturing more quickly, but emotionally maturing less quickly so their bodies and ‘sexual urges’ are moving faster than their brains are able to make good decisions. Less people are married these days at an age when sexual activity typically begins. More people are getting divorced. Sexual activity outside of committed relationships is more commonly accepted. And in the age of texting, twitter and other forms of social media, we are raising a generation who is more prone to sexual activity, but not equipped to have authentic relationships with good communications skills that would lead to good decision making.
Is there hope? Yes! The country may be divided down the line about abortion, but I think most of us agree we first need to prevent more unplanned pregnancies. We also need to step in and help the women and men facing an unplanned pregnancy with a clear plan that not only gets them through their immediate crisis, but sets them up for success for their future.
At Hope Clinic for Women our prevention material is called Beyond Abstinence. We try to address matters of the heart and the head first knowing that focusing on just sexual activity is not as successful. We have a four-week presentation model that works best when the boys/girls are split up for most of it, and it is taught in small groups where dialogue is possible. We have a track just for parents that has been an eye-opening experience for them. We also provide professional counseling for women and men who are struggling in this area dealing with childhood trauma, sexual abuse, pornography and other issues impeding their chance for success.
We also have the most amazing and thorough program for women and men in unplanned pregnancies. We provide medical help, practical education classes, spiritual mentorship, professional counseling (for her, her partner, the couple, and the family). Along with participation in our program, they receive practical support for them and their children (clothes, diapers, wipes, car seats, strollers, etc.). In a recent article online, 50% of pro-choice women said they had their abortion because they had no support system. Hope Clinic can be that support system. If you or anyone you know needs help in an unplanned pregnancy or would like to discuss how we can bring our prevention program to your church, school, or community, please contact us at 615.321.0005 or visit us at www.hopeclinicforwomen.org.