Dolores Prida discusses Plan B (the morning-after pill), Latina teens and calls for revamping Plan A in her weekly opinion column in El Diario La Prensa. The piece was translated from the Spanish.
The “morning-after pill,” which prevents pregnancy if taken within 72 hours and is now freely available to young girls in New York City schools, is also called Plan B.
But, which is the Plan A that failed? Abstinence? Lack of protection? Ignorance?
I pick Ignorance. Too many of our young people have no idea how a baby is actually made. They’re still too close to the age when their parents told them that storks fly in with the creature already swaddled in Pampers.
They don’t know either how becoming a mom at age 14 or 15 destroys their youth and impact everyone’s future. The cost of teenage pregnancy to taxpayers is $11 billions annually. But the social cost is immeasurable.
According to some surveys, most Latino parents prefer that their children get their information about sex from them. But the truth is that many are not prepared to provide it — maybe because their own parents never had such a conversation with them. And depending on the parents’ educational level, many lack the facts and the tact needed to avoid having the talk turn into a scolding or an overloaded sermon that will likely go into the child’s one ear and out the other.
Also, depending on how long the parents have lived in the United States, any information they share may be deeply colored by our culture and traditions that places motherhood on a pedestal, right next to this or that Virgin, who never had a child or the one who had it was thanks to a miracle.
These are some of the reasons that the school system offers the Plan B pill to at least try to bring down the number of under-17 students who become pregnant each year in New York City (more than 7,000, two-thirds of which drop out of school).
But that’s not enough. We need some new Plan As to cover every possibility. In this case, one-size doesn’t fit all.
Besides instructions about the mechanics of reproduction and the proper use of prophylactics, it’s a must to instill love and respect of themselves, foster dreams and aspirations that go beyond the roles of wife and mother so prevalent in segments of our community.
There’s no more effective contraceptive that the wish to fly, the trepidation of plotting and reaching objectives.
Maybe the answer lies in an educational plan of action to prevent teen pregnancy based on feminist perspectives. This should be the cause for this millennium for successful women who have already overcome obstacles and availed themselves of opportunities at hand.
It’s a herculean labor worthy of Wonder Woman, especially right now when many of the rights and opportunities that women have already achieved are in danger. But we shouldn’t shrink from it, after all, as my Mamá used to say, a woman’s work is never done.
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