Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack is leading an effort to get more young Iowa women to think about and acquire birth control. It’s called "The Iowa Initiative to Reduce Unintended Pregnancies" and Vilsack says they’re starting to train hair stylists and salon owners to talk with their clients about birth control.
"We’re going to be working with pharmacists to help them educate. We’re going to be working with Latino and African American radio stations and soap opera dramas. We’re going to be working on college campuses, community college campuses," Vilsack says, " so, I’m on a mission and that is to engage the people of Iowa in a conversation that I think is really, really important."
According to Vilsack, about half of the nation’s pregnant women say their pregnancy was unexpected. Vilsack says that’s why she agreed to work on this five-year-long campaign. "Having the conversation around the state with civic groups and opinion leaders and really trying get people to figure out how they can have community conversations to address this," Vilsack says, "but also address it by making sure we have qualified people, that we teach people about long-acting, reversible contraceptives that really are 100 percent effective for three to 12 years, depending on the contraception."
Vilsack cites a recent study of Iowa by the Guttmacher Institute. "State and federal money put behind family planning for women who can’t afford it averts 20,000 unintended pregnancies a year, 8000 abortions and saves taxpayers $88 million," Vilsack says. Vilsack also cites statistics which show the rate of unplanned teen pregnancies has fallen, but that’s not the case for 20- and 30-year olds. About 40 percent of unintended pregnancies are among women who have had a college education.