Message from Millennials: Support Reproductive Rights

Aug 27th, 2013 | By | Category: Youth Rights

By Suzanne York,

We live in interesting times, especially here in the United States.  ObamaCare is about to be implemented yet opponents continue to try and block it.  Contraceptive use and voluntary family planning services – something many take for granted – has become a point of contention too, and we are back to talking about women and their bodies and reproduction.

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And what does this “discussion” mean for today’s youth, not only in the U.S. but around the world?  Nearly half of the world´s population is under the age of 25, or more than 3 billion people. This is the largest generation in history entering reproductive age. The opportunities we provide these youths, and the choices they make – especially in terms of family planning, health, education, and jobs – will make a huge difference in our future, including whether global population rises to 10 billion people by 2050 or stabilizes at around 8 billion.

Empowering Youth

Addressing the contraceptive needs of young people is important because they are at a critical transitional stage. Most people become sexually active during adolescence, yet most young people do not have access to the programs and services that they need. Providing young people with youth-friendly comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education, information and services, including family planning services, will empower them to reach their full potential.

Advocates for Youth, an international non-governmental organization that champions efforts to help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health, recently pulled together some interesting facts about Millennials — the American teens and twenty-somethings who are making the passage into adulthood at the start of a new millennium.

Here are just a few statistics to consider and reflect upon as our society grapples with lack of healthcare, unemployment, rising costs of education, and increasing global problems from climate change to poverty to growing populations and the effects on youth:

  • Eight in ten (84%) unmarried Millennials say avoiding pregnancy is important to them. Young people understand the importance of being able to plan when to have children, especially in tough economic times.
  • For women younger than 30, the Pill is the leading method of contraception and it can be expensive. Birth control pills even for someone with insurance can cost $50 a month. Over half of women 18 to 34 say they struggle with the cost of birth control.
  • Millennials care about reproductive and sexual health and access to services: they are more likely to support to support access to comprehensive sex education (88% support) than any other generation.
  • Millennials also strongly support access to contraception for all women, regardless of age or income level. Over three-quarters of Millennials (77%), a higher percentage than any other age group, believe methods of birth control should be generally available to those ages 16 or older without parental approval, and nearly nine in ten (86%).


The importance of educating young people.

Investing in the Future

It’s an obvious statement, that it is today’s youth and their offspring that are inheriting this world, but one that is easy to overlook.  Investing in youth and supporting them during their formative years is key to building a healthy and sustainable world.

This is how Advocates for Youth views it: “Millennials are a generation on the verge, whose views and decisions will shape American culture, politics, and sexual norms for decades.”

Perhaps some of the “older generation” of decision-makers need to be reminded of this.



Suzanne York is a senior writer with the Institute for Population Studies.

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