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Ohio Coalition Pushes for Comprehensive Sex Education

The Coalition for Family Health in Ohio released a study, Report on the Costs of Teen Pregnancy in Ohio earlier in 2008 which examined the social and economic costs of teenage pregnancy in the state as a vehicle to support a comprehensive approach to sex education. The report is one part of an effort to reduce teen pregnancy rates in the state. In 2007, Ohio received $8,867,073 in federal funds for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.[1] That same year, however, Ohio embarked on a new path and became the eighth state to reject federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.[2]

Specifically, the report found that Ohio, like the rest of the nation, is experiencing a rise in teenage birthrates after a decade of decline.[3] In 2005, Ohio had a pregnancy rate of 65.1 per 1,000 teen girls ages 15–19 which earned it a rank of 28th among the states.[4] That same year, teenage pregnancies in Ohio resulted in 15,713 live births and 6,057 abortions to young women under 20 years of age.[5] Teenage birthrates are an even bigger problem in the more populated and impoverished cities, like Cleveland. By the twelfth grade, 21.9 percent of Cleveland students had either been pregnant or impregnated someone.[6]

According to the 2007 Ohio Youth Risk Behavior Survey, just under half of all Ohio high school students have had sex, and by the 12th grade, this increases to nearly two-thirds of students.[7] Among Ohio high school students, only 60.1 percent used condoms the last time they had sex, and only 17.4 percent had used oral contraceptives.[8]

The report makes it clear that teenagers are engaging in sexual activity without the knowledge they need to protect themselves and their partners. The report concludes that the result is high teen pregnancy and parenthood which brings enormous social and economic costs to the state.[9] For example, teen pregnancy contributes to costly issues like poverty, health care, domestic violence, foster care, education, and abortion. Reducing teenage pregnancies will lower costs in many of these areas, potentially saving Ohio millions of dollars.[10]

“We know how to prevent teen pregnancy, and comprehensive sex education is a foundational tool in the tool box,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). “For Ohio, this report shows how investing in good prevention isn’t just the right thing to do for young people, it also makes the most fiscal sense for taxpayers.”

1 Ohio State Profile, SIECUS (2008), accessed 15 October 2008, <>.
2 Emily Spencer, Report on the Costs of Teen Pregnancy in Ohio, (Coalition for Family Health, May 2008), accessed 14 October 2008, <>.
3 Guttmacher Institute, “Contraception Counts: Ohio” Fact Sheet (March 2006), accessed 15 October 2008, <>
4 Ohio Department of Health, Center for Vital and Health Statistics (2005), accessed 15 October 2008, <>
5 Ibid.
6 Emily Spencer, Report on the Costs of Teen Pregnancy in Ohio.
7 “Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Ohio”. Ohio Department of Health. 29 May 2008, accessed 14 October 2008, < >.
8 Ibid.
9 Marc Kovac, “Coalition Pushes for Sex Ed,” The Vindicator (24 September 2008), accessed 14 October 2008, <>.
10 Emily Spencer, “Report on the Costs of Teen Pregnancy in Ohio.”