The observation of the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy on Wednesday is a good time to review options available to women at the Durango Life Center, also known as the Durango Pregnancy Center, the new director says.
"We educate women on the options - keeping their baby, adoption and abortion," said Stephanie Brown, who has led the agency since January. "We don't express an opinion one way or the other, however."
Education on pregnancy issues is critical, in the opinion of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
In spite of progress in reducing teen pregnancy, three out of 10 girls ages 15 to 19 are pregnant by age 20 - the highest rate among fully industrialized nations, according to a statement on the agency Web site.
Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. Among women in their 20s, seven out of 10 are unplanned, the statement says.
The Durango Life Center doesn't see a great number of high school-age girls, probably because they have counseling on campus, Brown said. The center's clients tend to be college-age women, with about 10 percent of them 30 years of age or older, she said. She said 90 percent of them are single.
"Our clients are worried or scared," Brown said. "All our services - self-administered pregnancy tests, peer counseling or donation of clothes for pregnant women or diapers for newborns - are free."
As many as 15 women a month take the pregnancy test at the center, Brown said. The women themselves decide from the results of a urine test whether they are pregnant.
"We aren't medically certified to say yes or no," Brown said.
Brown received an undergraduate degree in organizational leadership and a master's degree in Christian studies from Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. She was a volunteer at several pregnancy clinics in Kansas City before being hired by the Durango Life Center.
Brown is working on two projects - the development of a program stressing abstinence and the revival of a community newsletter and Web site to address issues related to teen pregnancy.
"We place emphasis on abstinence, and our program will talk with teens specifically about how to avoid compromising situations, unsafe relationships, and drugs and alcohol," Brown said.
The number of teenagers giving birth peaked in 1991 at 62 per 1,000 girls, Bill Albert, a spokesman for The National Campaign, said by telephone. The rate declined to 41 per 1,000 girls in 2005 but has since increased, Albert said. The rate is now 43 per 1,000 girls.
In Colorado, the rate of teens having babies was 44 per 1,000 girls in 2006, Albert said.
Albert said the upturn can be attributed to a pair of factors. A decrease in sexual activity among teens and an increase in the use of contraceptives have reversed themselves.
The upcoming National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy isn't a coordinated campaign, Albert said.
"We're in contact with many agencies, but there is no organizing principle," Albert said. "Different states and different communities observe the occasion differently."
Brown said, as far as she knows, there is no organized effort to observe the date in Durango.