Augusta, GA – The teen birth rate declined last year across the country and right here in the CSRA. But while health care officials are cheering on this news, others are questioning the way a local clinic for youth went about attempting to lower the number of pregnancies in the CSRA.
Kelli Parks, of Hephzibah, Georgia is sounding the alarm on GR Health’s Teen Life Clinic.
“They have these hours of operation Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from the hours of 3-5. That’s really when parents are working. That’s really giving these teenagers the opportunity to be able to continue on the path of having sex outside of marriage. Now, if this clinic promoted abstinence I would be all for it, but it doesn’t,” Parks said. “Yes, I would be very upset as a parent to know that my daughter went without my consent.”
GR Health’s Dr. Paul Browne is one of the physicians working at the clinic at Georgia Regents Health. He said the clinic gives teens all of their medical options, which includes everything from no sex at all to a prescription for birth control.
“It’s federal law in the United States that a teen can come and ask for health care in any clinical setting without their parent and we must provide it to them,” Dr. Browne said.
Browne said Teen Life Clinic opened in 2013 with a $140,000 grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant. Richmond County’s pregnancy rate from 2010 outnumbers state and national pregnancies, according to the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential. Dr. Browne said the clinic’s goal was to lower that number. He said, “We’ve reduced the teen pregnancy rate in Richmond County since the start of this program by about 30 percent.”
Susan Swanson sees her share of teens in distress at Augusta Care Pregnancy Center on Broad Street.
“The towns where you push the contraceptives have the highest STD rates,” said Swanson, the Executive Director.
She tells us contraceptives keep youth having sex and at risk for diseases and pregnancies.
“We are doing sonograms, we’re doing education. We believe most of you problem in most of today’s culture is that kids lack understand of life and how to grow up,” she said.
“Family planning is abstinence, family planning is contraception and for some people family planning is pregnancy termination. We do abstinence and contraception here. We do not do elective pregnancy terminations here,” said Dr. Brown.
Parks reached out to leaders in the community to help her in pushing for more education instead of contraceptives. Doctor Browne agrees that education is key and told us they also offer talks on disease prevention, as well.