stimulate research to (a) develop new contraceptive methods for both women and men, (b) answer important questions about how best to organize contraceptive services, and (c) understand more fully the determinants and antecedents of unintended pregnancy.

In the balance of this summary, each of these five campaign goals is outlined in more detail.

  • Campaign Goal 1: Improve knowledge about contraception, unintended pregnancy, and reproductive health.

An important reason for inadequate contraceptive vigilance, and therefore unintended pregnancy, is that many Americans lack adequate knowledge about contraception and reproductive health generally. The fact that many people mistakenly believe that childbearing is less risky medically than using oral contraceptives is a sobering example of this problem. The resulting fears and misconceptions that stem from such erroneous beliefs can impede the careful, consistent use of contraception, which in turn contributes to the risk of unintended pregnancy.

Accordingly, the campaign should include a series of information and education activities directed to women of all ages, not just adolescent girls, describing available contraceptive methods and highlighting, in particular, the common occurrence of unintended pregnancy among women age 20 and over, especially those over age 40 for whom an unintended pregnancy may carry particular medical risks. Activities should target boys and men as well, emphasizing their stake in avoiding unintended pregnancy, the contraceptive methods available to them, and how to support their partners' use of contraception. And both men and women need balanced, accurate information about the benefits and risks attached to specific contraceptive methods.

Parents, families, and both religious and community institutions should be major sources of information and education about reproductive health and family planning, especially for young people, and they should be supported in serving this important function. In addition, U.S. school systems should continue developing comprehensive, age-appropriate programs of sex education that build on new research about effective content, timing, and teacher training for these courses. State laws and policies should be revised, where necessary, to allow and encourage such instruction.

Information and education about contraception should include abstinence as one of many methods available to prevent pregnancy. And particularly in programs directed to adolescents, it is important to encourage and help young people resist precocious sexual involvement. Sexual intercourse should occur in

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement