labor and delivery, and they are often present in delivery rooms also. This development in childbirth highlights the interest of men in family formation, and lends added weight to the notion that men could be more deeply involved in pregnancy prevention and planning as well.
Federal and state legislation designed to strengthen child support enforcement and paternity establishment also focuses attention on males in that it provides new incentives for unmarried men in particular to take greater responsibility for preventing unintended pregnancy. The Family Support Act of 1988 requires states to establish paternity for all children born outside marriage and to require all unmarried fathers to pay child support until their child reaches 18 years of age; although it is too soon to gauge the impact of this law definitively, early reports are that there has been an increase in the percentage of children born outside of marriage who have paternity established and who have a child support award (Hanson et al., 1995). Current welfare reform proposals put even greater emphasis on establishing paternity. Whereas in the past an unmarried father could, in essence, walk away from a child born outside of marriage if he chose to do so, today both the law and public opinion make this a less available option.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and AIDS epidemic was also an important part of this project's genesis. Data now suggest that the incidence of HIV infection among women is accelerating at an alarming rate. Moreover, the epidemic has apparently increased the willingness of the public and some elected officials to address more candidly such issues as high-risk sexual behavior and at least one form of contraception—condoms. Topics that were once expressly forbidden in the electronic media are now common fare on talk shows and news specials, signaling that new opportunities have opened for communication and education. The present study was organized in part to take advantage of this new willingness to address sexual behavior, in the hope that pregnancy prevention, too, could be approached more directly.
Finally, it is important to acknowledge two particular issues that shaped this study: the controversies over abstinence-based education and over abortion. During the 1980s, there was a movement at the federal level, and among some communities as well, to promote abstinence instead of contraception as the major means of preventing pregnancies (as well as AIDS and STDs) among unmarried adolescents. This argument spawned impassioned debates about whether abstinence was an outmoded concept in the late twentieth century that ignored the realities of adolescent sexual activity and about whether discussing contraception with teenagers gave tacit approval to their sexual activity, or perhaps even encouraged it. Disagreements were especially intense over whether school-based sex education for adolescents should stress abstinence only, or should combine messages about abstinence with material on contraception as well. Although some federal health officials took the former position, other people, especially those in the family planning field, took the latter view,