Celebrating 25 Years of Service
In 1993 teen pregnancies were at record highs and more than a half million teens gave birth, including 200,000 of whom hadn’t yet turned 18. At the time, the rate of teen pregnancy in the US exceeded most developed countries. In his 1995 State of the Union, President Clinton called out teen pregnancy as “our most serious social problem.” He asked the country to come together to reduce teen pregnancy. A small group of dedicated people answered the call by launching The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
Since our founding the world of reproductive health has changed—and continues to change—dramatically. To start, after peaking in 1991, birth rates among teens age 15-19 have declined 75%. There have been dramatic declines in all 50 states and among all racial/ethnic groups. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2020 the teen birth rate hit a record low of 15.4 births per 1,000.
As rates of teen pregnancies and births were plummeting, around 80% of pregnancies among those age 18 to 29 were described by the women themselves as unplanned. To reflect this reality, we expanded our mission and in 2005 became The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. We began to work to ensure that all young people—no matter who they were, where they lived, or what their economic status might be—had the access, information, and opportunity to make informed decisions that aligned with their intentions for their futures.
The reproductive health community had also been working on recognizing the profound disparities in access to quality health services, health outcomes, and on the importance of building equity. The Reproductive Justice movement taught the need to address reproductive oppression and that there was a “human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”
Both our organization and the world of reproductive health continues to grapple with these concepts and the best ways to support all people with equity.
We believe in young people, we always have. We believe in their dreams, their goals, and their futures. We believe that nothing should stand in their way. We believe that every young person has the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child. To better reflect these core beliefs, in 2015, we rebranded and became Power to Decide. We committed ourselves—through a variety of programs and initiatives—to increase information, access, and opportunity for all young people.
We launched Bedsider, a groundbreaking and effective online birth control support network dedicated to helping people take an active role in their reproductive health. After ten years, Bedsider is now a trusted resource for millions every year who are looking for reliable and relevant information about birth control and where to find it.
We have begun campaigns like #ThxBirthControl, #TalkingIsPower, and Let’s Talk Month to encourage everyone to speak up about all that birth control makes possible and to open conversations about sex, love, and relationships.
We partnered with groups including Advocates for Youth, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change, and URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity in supporting Sex Ed for All, a simple recognition that young people have clearly and consistently called for complete and accurate sexual health information and access to sexual and reproductive health care services.
In 2018, we expanded the focus of our work to ensure that all people have access to the full spectrum of reproductive health services, including access to abortion care. Through Bedsider, in 2020, we launched Abortion Finder, an easy-to-use search tool that provides up-to-date information about the availability of abortion care across the country. With more than 750 health centers, it’s the most comprehensive directory of trusted and verified abortion service providers in the United States.
Most recently, we have convened leaders and practitioners from more than 50 national, state, and local organizations in the reproductive well-being movement. Reproductive well-being means that all people have equitable access to the information, services, and support they need to have control over their bodies, and to make their own decisions related to sexuality and reproduction throughout their lives.
But, for all the progress that the nation has made and the role that this organization and so many others have made toward that progress over the last quarter century, we are sobered by the challenges ahead. Large disparities persist and affect millions across the country. We are currently facing an unprecedented crisis as state and federal legislators work to erode reproductive protections across the county.
Throughout our 25-year history, we have remained both uniquely positioned and respected among national, state, and local advocates for providing evidence-based information and statistics on unplanned pregnancy and related issues. And we are still working hard so that everyone can have the power to decide. Since launching our Contraceptive Access Fund in 2019, we have helped more than 4,000 people to access free birth control. But as attacks on reproductive freedom rise, we need your help more today than ever before. Our Fund is running low, and we may not be able to continue to provide those most in need with the crucial support they require.
Please consider donating to our Fund right now. Just $5 a month can provide someone with birth control for a full year. Give now.