Bristol Palin, the tiny satellite that is slowly eclipsing famed former vice-presidential candidate and Russia-watcher Sarah Palin, is outraged this week by the fact that young women in Washington state have been given a remarkable opportunity to access safe, effective birth control and take charge of their own futures and reproductive health.
According to Wonkette, teen pregnancy expert Bristol Palin worked herself into a fury this week over a pilot program at Chief Sealth International High School in Washington, which has been giving free birth control counseling and access to IUDs, if the students want them. Washington, like many states, allows minors to obtain birth control without a parent’s consent. That is a good thing, because it means that minors stuck with dumb parents whose idea of “birth control” is telling teenagers to cross their legs and think of Jesus can take care of their reproductive health on their own.
“Do you remember what it was like to be a 10 year old? I remember being an unabashed tomboy concerned with playing outside and acing 5th grade,” Palin wrote. “But life isn’t so innocent and carefree for some 10 years old in Washington State.”
“It is crazy that the government is offering a controversial form of birth control that can have serious life-long side effects to 10-year-old CHILDREN, but then to do all of this behind a parent’s back is simply outrageous!”
The Chief Sealth IUD program is part of a program by the Washington State Helathcare Authority, which oversees a program called Take Charge that offers STD and health screenings and family planning services, including condoms, birth control pills, and IUDs, as well as reproductive health information. According to Jezebel, six 10- and 11-year-old children were reportedly served by the Take Charge program in Washington over the course of three years, but most of its clients were women between the ages of 17 and 20. There is no information available as to what services those 10- and 11-year-olds received. Additionally, 26 states say that it is OK for minors over the age of 12 to access contraception without having to get their parents’ consent.
Maybe instead of thinking back on what it was like to be a 10-year-old, Palin should be thinking back on what it was like to be a 17-year-old. A lot of 17-year-olds would have benefited from access to IUDs, because even though Palin calls them a “controversial form of birth control,” IUDs are one of the most effective and reliable means of birth control. Their failure rate is less than one percent, compared with a nine percent failure rate for the pill and an 18 percent failure rate for condoms.
IUDs have been found to be safe for teens, and they are a great option for a lot of women looking for a long-term contraceptive. With the help of a generous grant from the Susan Buffett foundation, Colorado famously ran an enormously successful six-year program to distribute free or low-cost IUDs to low-income women in the state. It reduced Colorado’s teen pregnancy rate by 40 percent and its teen abortion rate by 42 percent, all while saving the government approximately $5 for ever $1 spent on the IUDs. That seems like an enormous success to me, and to all the young women who can now make life choices and pursue their own dreams and goals without having to worry about being tied down by an infant they accidentally conceived with some dude they thought was hot in 11th grade.