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Teen Birthrate Declines with Improved Education, Access

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A seven-year drop in Shelby County’s teen birthrate shines a spotlight on organizations such as A Step Ahead Foundation, which offer access to costlier -- and more reliable -- birth control methods.

Former juvenile court judge Claudia Haltom founded A Step Ahead Foundation to combat cycles of poverty and low education among teenagers.

Her organization refers women to clinics that provide the most reliable forms of “long-acting removable contraceptives” or LARCs, as they are called.

These may include birth control implants such as Nexplanon, which can provide 99% reliable pregnancy protection for up to three years, or an IUD, which is inserted in the uterus by a doctor. Many teenagers and young adults can’t typically afford these contraceptives, which cost upwards of $1,000.

Haltom’s foundation covers the costs, and also makes it easier for teens to get access, from making a referral to providing transportation to a clinic. The foundation would also cover the cost of removing or renewing the birth control later.

In this interview, Haltom explains that young people can’t afford even one contraceptive “failure.”

“Failure, as we say, is a baby,” she said. “It’s not just ‘I forgot to take the pill’ or ‘Oops, it ripped,’ it’s that you got pregnant on it.”

For more information on A Step Ahead Foundation, call 901-320-3837.