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Nevada's Access To Birth Control: Should Colorado Be A Model?

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Colorado has seen a huge drop in the number of pregnancies among teenagers and in the state's poorest neighborhoods. Could Nevada look to that state for solutions?

Over the years, Nevada's teen pregnancy rates have consistently ranked among the country's worst.

Perhaps more compelling is the fact that the highest numbers fall in the state's poorest neighborhoods.

That's not to say Nevada is the only state that faces this issue. Which is why Colorado, took a decidedly different - and maybe a bit controversial - approach. Lucky for them, it seems to be working.

In 2009, the state of Colorado began offering free intrauterine and implant birth control devices that would prevent pregnancies for years. The birth control was offered to teens and low-income women, and the birthrate for teenagers across the state has plunged by more than 40 percent, while the rate of abortions fell by 42 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

According to Suzann Chesebrough-Pruitt, who is the community nurse supervisor with the teen pregnancy prevention program with the Southern Nevada Health District, the district has a similar program. 

Through the Department of Health and Human Services' Title 10 program, the health district offers low or no cost birth control. 

Pruitt said the district offers four different kinds of long-active contraception, plus the birth control pill and Depo-Provera, otherwise known as the birth control shot.

She believes one of the hurdles that remains for lowering the teen pregnancy rate in our state is making teens feel comfortable in one of the clinics. 

"What I think we should do is make our clinics teen friendly to youth where they're more comfortable coming into the clinics," Pruitt said.

The health district just received a new grant to help it expand its evidence-based sexual health education program.

She said teens who go through the program are more likely to say they'll use condoms, they're more knowledgeable about HIV and AIDS and have better refusal skills, meaning they're able to talk about condom use with their partners and refuse sex. 

 

Suzann Chesebrough-Pruitt, community nurse supervisor, teen pregnancy prevention program with the Southern Nevada Health District

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Prior to taking on the role of Broadcast Operations Manager in January 2021, Rachel was the senior producer of KNPR's State of Nevada program for 6 years. She helped compile newscasts and provided coverage for and about the people of Southern Nevada, as well as major events such as the October 1 shooting on the Las Vegas strip, protests of racial injustice, elections and more. Rachel graduated with a bachelor's degree of journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University.