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Bill To Expand Insurance Coverage Of Contraception For Teens Fuels Debate In West Va.

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The antiabortion-rights group Family Policy Council of West Virginia issued a statement Wednesday calling on state lawmakers to support abstinence-only sex education and oppose legislation that would expand insurance coverage of contraception for teens, the Charleston Gazette reports.

Earlier in the week, several reproductive-rights groups -- led by WV FREE -- held a press conference advocating for passage of a House bill (HB 4272) that would require health insurers to cover contraceptives for teens who are insured through their parents' plans. At the event, organizers said they hoped the legislation would receive support from antiabortion-rights groups because expanding access to contraception could lower the rate of unintended teen pregnancies and reduce the need for abortion. West Virginia has the 18th highest teen birth rate among states.
In his press release, Family Policy Council President Jeremy Dys said WV FREE's stance encourages teens to "experiment with risky, premarital sexual behavior." Dys said the focus should be on abstinence and cited a recent study showing that an experimental abstinence-only education program delayed sexual activity more than a comprehensive sex ed class or no sex ed.
The Guttmacher Institute and other critics of abstinence-only programs have noted that the program in the study differed from many current programs in that it did not push students to delay sex until marriage and did not disparage contraception. WV FREE Executive Director Margaret Chapman Pomponio said her group supports abstinence messages as one component of comprehensive programs that also include information on contraception. "We don't advocate or promote teen sexual activity, but we need to be realistic and provide them with real information, and help them make informed decisions as they become young adults," she said (Knezevich, Charleston Gazette, 2/11).
Reprinted with kind permission from You can view the entire Daily Women's Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery here. The Daily Women's Health Policy Report is a free service of the National Partnership for Women & Families, published by The Advisory Board Company.
© 2010 The Advisory Board Company. All rights reserved.

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