Unintended Pregnancies

By: Jessica Aspiras
By: Jessica Aspiras

According to Michigan Surgeon General Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom every year four out of every ten pregnancies in Michigan are unplanned.

"It affects not only those babies. It affects communities. It also affects our economy. Because for those pregnancies, many of them the state has to subsidize in some form or fashion."

So back in July of 2005 the Michigan Department of Community Health began a program called "Talk Early & Talk Often." Coordinator Barbara Flis says the 90 minute workshops teach parents of middle school aged kids how to talk to their children about sex and abstinence.

"Whenever I'm in a group of parents, and I say your parents all probably did a great job of talking with you about sex, everybody giggles because our parents really did not approach us directly about that. And it's really important today that we break that cycle and start talking with our kids."

And in the past year at least 800 parents have been trained, with 98 percent reporting an increased ability to talk with their middle schoolers and answer questions. Another program called "Plan First!" started three months ago in order to help women at or below 185 percent poverty receive free family planning. Dr. Wisdom says so far 11,500 women have signed up and more than 250 are added each day.

"We help women through the "Plan First!" effort. We help them delay that pregnancy by providing the contraceptive services that they would not have access to."

Now a new initiative is about to begin that's solely aimed at healthcare providers. According to taskforce leader Dr. Thomas Petroff, the goal is to help providers with their role in counseling women on pregnancy.

"If you're not going to get pregnant, what are you doing to prevent that pregnancy? It's discussion that needs to happen."

Plan First! is a program made available to women ages 19 through 44 who are currently not eligible for Medicaid and at or below 185 percent poverty. The program provides free family planning services including an annual physical exam, Pap smear, and contraceptive management. For more information call 1-800-642-3195.

Talk Early and Talk Often is a 90 minute workshop geared towards parents of middle school-aged children. It's designed to help teach parents on how to talk to their kids about abstinence and sexuality. To register for the October 10 Lansing workshop call 517-882-6866.


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