NEWS IN CONTEXT
Recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month
October 2, 2009
Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15–October 15) is a time to recognize Hispanic culture in the United States and around the world. It also offers an opportunity to consider barriers to Hispanic communities’ continued progress.
In the United States, Latinas disproportionately live in areas with poor access to family planning services. Compared with their non-Hispanic white counterparts, Latinas have similar levels of sexual activity, but significantly lower rates of contraceptive use. The result is rates of unintended pregnancy, teen pregnancy and teen birth that are more than double those of non-Hispanic white teens. In addition, some Latina teens, lacking the resources and support to enter or complete college, start families earlier than they would have otherwise, according to a newly released study from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.
It is clear that an increased commitment to reproductive health services for Latinas in the United States is needed if we are to help these young women achieve their full potential. Young people need comprehensive sex education—which helps delay sexual activity and allows youth to make informed decisions when they become sexually active—but all too often do not get it. Increasing the availability of confidential family planning services and contraception gives young women the autonomy to make their own reproductive health decisions, allowing them to better determine their future.
For too long, policymakers have ignored these realities and, in doing so, have failed the Hispanic American communities Hispanic Heritage Month offers an opportunity to examine this community’s needs, which in the area of reproductive health are great. Meeting these needs will require policymakers to provide adequate funding and resources to support high-quality, culturally relevant adolescent programs to prevent unintended pregnancy before it derails young women’s future aspirations.
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Or click here to read the full report from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health