President’s Note
March 2018

The way things have been going since Trump took office, maybe we need trigger alerts for good news. Anyway, here it is: Teen pregnancies in New York City have dropped a stunning 60 percent since 2000.

This dramatic decrease is due to smart programs and effective birth control. It’s also due to the leadership of dedicated public servants, like Estelle Raboni, whom we’re proud to have as the first Latina board chair of Population Connection. (See interview on page 10.) Estelle is the Project Director of New York City Teens Connection. She provided the spark for this issue’s coverage of reproductive justice.

While Trump’s tortured tweets mock and malign so many, we highlight vital work that’s being done despite this administration’s woeful words and dastardly deeds.

What do you think the Trump administration did in light of the stunning success of Raboni’s federally funded program, which saves taxpayers vast sums of money and transforms the lives of so many New York teens in disadvantaged neighborhoods? Did it increase funding or reduce it? Neither, actually. The administration flat-out cancelled all funding, effective at the end of June, for this and all such programs across the nation — programs that reach 600,000 at-risk teens. Thankfully, New York officials have stepped in to provide needed support.

Here’s what one young participant, Danesha from Staten Island, had to say about teens and sex,“If you don’t give them proper information, then something is going to happen, especially if they don’t know how to protect themselves.” The program works wonders in 138 public high schools in New York City.

The Trump administration plumbs new dismal depths daily with decisions as mean as they are just plain stupid. We all pay the price for teen pregnancy.

The annual cost of teen pregnancy to U.S. taxpayers is $9.4 billion, according to a 2010 study by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. That price tag doesn’t even take into account the enormous loss of productivity, which results when pregnant teens drop out of school, not to mention missed opportunities for them to have a better life.

We know that, “The modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess.” Those are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the same 1966 speech, Dr. King emphasized, “There is scarcely anything more tragic in human life than a child who is not wanted.” That’s still true today. He also once said, “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

Every woman, too, of course. The theme at a rally I attended recently was “Girls Lead the Way.” We can help by making sure they have access to the information and services they need so they can become leaders. Dawn will follow darkness. In the meantime, all of us at Population Connection are inspired by our friend Estelle Raboni and all those who will never back down.

John Seager

P.S. 2018 marks our 50th anniversary! Fifty years of advocating for reasonable, voluntary solutions to achieve zero population growth. We owe it all to the 250,000 donors who have enabled us to educate millions of young Americans and to be strong, effective advocates for population stabilization. Thank you!

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