Jacqueline B. Dixon and Revida Rahman
- Jacqueline B. Dixon, Esq., is a shareholder of Weatherly & Dixon, PLLC, and chair of the board of directors of A Step Ahead of Middle Tennessee. Revida Rahman, MBA, is co-founder of One WillCo and vice president of A Step Ahead of Middle Tennessee.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen women mobilize in tremendous ways. We all know a strong woman who puts others before herself, her own health and well-being. We see it too often, especially when it comes to reproductive health.
Long-acting reversible contraception
Access to medically accurate information and effective forms of free contraceptive care is essential for women living in Middle Tennessee. Healthy women equal healthy children and healthy families. In this time of rebuilding from natural disasters and COVID-induced setbacks, it is more important than ever that every woman, regardless of income level, insurance coverage or employment status, has the opportunity to access expensive but highly effective contraception known as LARC (Long Acting Reversible Contraception).
LARC methods are over 99% effective and can help prevent unplanned pregnancies for 3-10 years. Tennessee ranks 41st in the nation for LARC use, with just 7% of the reproductive population using the method, according to the Guttmacher Institute. If a woman decides this is the best birth control option for her, all barriers must be removed to make this option a reality.
The difference between financial success and poverty
When provided with free family planning resources, a woman is empowered to make healthy decisions and plans for herself and her family. This could mean a woman graduating from high school, getting a college degree, getting a stable job, or increasing family stability before starting or expanding a family. Free LARC can mean the difference between financial success and poverty for many women and their children.
Unwanted pregnancies place a heavy financial burden on the public, and taxpayers save money by investing in family planning resources. For example, Tennessee saved $131 million in 2015 from a lower teenage birth rate, according to Power to Decide. Those who experience an unintended pregnancy often do not receive the level of prenatal care needed to achieve the best birth outcomes. Children of teenage mothers are more often born with low birth weight and spend more time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a persistent problem in Tennessee due to the opioid crisis, often spend weeks in the NICU.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children born of unplanned pregnancies often experience significantly higher adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) affecting long-term infant and child well-being. The cost of much of this care is paid for by Tennessee’s state-funded Medicaid program, TennCare.
One step ahead of central Tennessee
Funded in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Human Services and others, One step ahead of central Tennessee works to strengthen families and the communities in which they live by removing barriers for anyone of childbearing age seeking access to contraceptive care in Davidson and the surrounding 17 counties. A Step Ahead covers all LARC-related costs that clients would otherwise incur when visiting a partner clinic. Of the clients served by A Step Ahead, more than 4 in 5 have no health insurance, nearly all live at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, and more than half have less than a college degree. ‘secondary studies.
When more teens and women are connected to free LARC services, economic security is increased, educational success is ensured, and family stability is enhanced, creating a path to prosperity for families in the Middle Tennessee community. .
Jacqueline B. Dixon, Esq., is a shareholder of Weatherly & Dixon, PLLC, and chair of the board of directors of A Step Ahead of Middle Tennessee. Revida Rahman, MBA, is co-founder of One WillCo and vice president of A Step Ahead of Middle Tennessee.