Free access to family planning resources will help strengthen families
Jacqueline B. Dixon and Revida Rahman
- Jacqueline B. Dixon, Esq., Is a shareholder of Weatherly & Dixon, PLLC, and Chairman of the Board of A Step Ahead of Middle Tennessee. Revida Rahman, MBA, is co-founder of One WillCo and vice president of A Step Ahead of Middle Tennessee.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen women make tremendous progress. We all know a strong woman who puts others before herself, her health and her well-being. We see it too often, especially when it comes to reproductive health.
Long-acting reversible contraception
Access to medically accurate information and effective forms of free contraceptive care is essential for women living in average Tennessee. Healthy women equal healthy children and healthy families. In this time of reconstruction from natural disasters and COVID-induced setbacks, it is more important than ever that every woman, regardless of income level, insurance coverage or employment status, have the opportunity to ” access an expensive but very effective method of contraception known as LARC. (long-acting reversible contraception).
LARC methods are over 99% effective and can help prevent unplanned pregnancies for 3 to 10 years. Tennessee ranks 41st in the country for using LARC, with just 7% of the reproductive population using this method, according to the Guttmacher Institute. If a woman decides that this is the best contraceptive option for her, all barriers must be removed to make that option a reality.
The difference between financial success and poverty
With free family planning resources, a woman has the opportunity to make healthy decisions and plans for herself and her family. It could mean that a woman graduates from high school, graduates from college, gets a stable job, or increases family stability before starting or adding to a family. Free LARC can make the difference between financial success and poverty for many women and their children.
Unintended pregnancies represent a significant financial burden on the public, and taxpayers save money by investing in family planning resources. For example, Tennessee saved $ 131 million in 2015 due to a drop in the teenage birth rate, according to Power to Decide. Those who experience an unwanted pregnancy often do not receive the level of antenatal care necessary to achieve the best results at birth. Children of teenage mothers are more frequently born with a low birth weight and spend more time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a persistent problem in Tennessee due to the opioid crisis, often spend weeks in the NICU.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children born to unplanned pregnancies often face significantly higher adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) affecting long-term infant and child well-being. The cost of much of this care is paid for by Tennessee’s state-funded Medicaid program, TennCare.
A step ahead of the average Tennessee
Funded in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Human Services and others, A Step Ahead of Middle Tennessee works to strengthen the families and communities in which they live by removing barriers for anyone of childbearing age seeking access to contraceptive care in Davidson and the surrounding 17 counties. . A Step Ahead covers all costs related to LARC that clients would otherwise incur when visiting a partner clinic. Of the clients served by A Step Ahead, more than 4 in 5 have no health insurance, almost all live at 200% or below the federal poverty line, and more than half have not completed high school .
When more teens and women are connected to free LARC services, economic security is increased, academic success is assured, and family stability is improved, creating a path to prosperity for families in the Middle Tennessee community.
Jacqueline B. Dixon, Esq., Is a shareholder of Weatherly & Dixon, PLLC, and Chairman of the Board of A Step Ahead of Middle Tennessee. Revida Rahman, MBA, is co-founder of One WillCo and vice president of A Step Ahead of Middle Tennessee.