Expanding Our Work To Meet The Needs Of Young People

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Expanding Our Work To Meet The Needs Of Young People

October 2, 2018
Power to Decide CEO at a rally with a sign that reads, "Thanks, Birth Control #ThxBirthControl"

Since its founding in 1996, Power to Decide has worked tirelessly to ensure that all young people, no matter who they are or where they live, have access to the information, services, and supports they need to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child. Throughout our history, we have been steadfast in our mission and unique approach to this work. Then and now, we engage diverse voices and perspectives to find common ground, use evidence to guide our work, catalyze innovation, and always put our audiences at our center. 

Our nation’s teen birth rates are lower than ever and, more importantly, they have declined significantly in all 50 states and among all racial and ethnic groups. Rates of unplanned pregnancy among women of all ages declined for the first time in 2011. However, disparities persist and progress is uneven. Despite impressive strides, African-American and Latina women are 1.5-to-2 times more likely to experience an unplanned pregnancy than their white counterparts, and women living in poverty are 5 times more likely to experience an unplanned pregnancy than their more affluent peers. The system is failing these women. Knowledge gaps about birth control among these same populations remain. More than 19 million women eligible for publicly funded birth control live in contraceptive deserts, counties in which there is not reasonable access to the full range of contraceptive methods. 

These systems inequities have prompted us to make an important change. We will expand the focus of our work to ensure that all people have access to the full spectrum of reproductive health services, and that spectrum includes access to abortion. 

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Why are we making this change? Because in these times, and in the context of health equity, it is critical. 

How will this impact our work? We will help ensure that women have accurate information about all options available to them should they experience an unplanned pregnancy. We will also make sure they know how to access the full spectrum of services. Young women will find all the same information about of their pregnancy options on Bedsider, as well as where to access abortion services on the Bedsider clinic finder. We will weigh in on policy matters that confirm that women have access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care, including abortion. We will include discussion about access to abortion in our programmatic and field-building work, as appropriate. 

This is not the first time we pivoted to reflect the evolving world and status of the issues—and it won’t be the last. While our mission and operating principles have and will remain the same, we recognize like most successful organizations that we need to constantly adapt to continue to serve and support young people. We have embraced the challenge and opportunity of change throughout our 22-year history, and we are excited about the opportunities this change will afford us. We will continue to do this work in our steadfast style with a commitment to an open tent approach aimed at finding common ground, an eye towards evidence and innovation, and always with those, we serve—young people—at the center. We look forward to working alongside you in our next chapter so that all have the power to decide, if, when and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child.

Ginny Ehrlich, CEO, Power to Decide