Can preventing unplanned pregnancy help get kids out of poverty and give them a fair shot at opportunity? http://nyti.ms/1p9aeL4. Nicholas Kristof raises this question in a heartbreaking New York Times column featuring a 3-year-old West Virginia boy whose deafness was not diagnosed until he was 18 months old, when Save the Children screened his hearing and provided for medical treatment. The early hearing loss may condemn him to a lifetime of speech difficulty. (“When Even the Starting Line Is Out of Reach,” February 23, 2014).
Kristof outlines a convincing antipoverty strategy. “What would make a difference? An integrated set of early interventions, starting with family planning to help women and girls avoid unwanted pregnancy (four out of five births to teenagers are unplanned or unwanted).”
Investing in educational programs aimed at empowering women and girls to prevent unplanned pregnancy should be our highest priority. Every day I speak with teens and women planning adoption as a result of an unplanned pregnancy. Many are already struggling to raise children as single mothers and failing to obtain interventions vital to their kids. Recently I spent an hour on the phone with a single mother whose 6-year-old son was held back in school because she was unable to obtain a diagnosis for his vision loss and corrective lenses. I urged her to advocate for her son with her local Department of Education so that she could access medical and optometric treatment as well as special education services. Overwhelmed, she wanted to make an adoption plan for a second child, due to be born in a few months.
Preventing unplanned pregnancy is the critical first step in creating opportunity for every child.