Blog: Recent Research
Community Colleges and Contraception Print

by Emily Bridges, Director of Public Information Services

There was an interesting article on CNN about access to reproductive health care services at community colleges.

Months before its summit  on community colleges Tuesday, the White House asked Americans to post on its website ideas for community college reform, and vote for their favorite idea.

More than 600 votes were cast before the summit opened. Viewers' favorite proposal came from a former teen mom and community college student in Arizona, and it was not about lowering tuition or expanding the number of parking spaces.

"Educate students on healthy relationships and family planning," Heather Thomas wrote, "in order to help community college students finish their education and then plan for a family when the time is right."

Now, throughout the article the author, who is not particularly renowned for being sex-positive,  keeps making that  "Women should have babies after diplomas" point, and I'm not fully on board with this proclamation, because each woman should have or not have a baby if/when she chooses to do so.  That said, it does bring up an interesting point about community colleges and health clinics.  With the flagging economy, more people are going to community colleges. And people need reproductive and sexual health services and supplies wherever they attend school.



Says the author:

In South Carolina, for example, only 6 percent of two-year schools have on-site health centers. This compares with 85 percent of four-year schools in that state.

Only 28 percent of two-year schools make condoms available. At four-year schools, 40 percent do. None of the two-year schools provides emergency contraception.

Plus, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance system, over 60% of teens in 12th grade have ever had sex - that is,  the majority of young people who are about to enter college have already had sex.  It's clear that students at many community colleges could benefit from better contraceptive supplies and services.  But that takes money, which with the higher student load, is scarce. Reproductive health is just one more reason why community colleges need more funding from lawmakers. 

Preparing young people for a healthy future includes helping them protect their sexual health and prevent pregnancies they don't want.   Birth control IS preventive medicine, and it's really high time we acknowledged that at every level of society.

In the meantime, the Great American Condom Campaign has over 80 SafeSites at community colleges:  instances where because condom availability on campus is low, students have volunteered to distribute free condoms to their peers.  If you attend a community college and are interested in becoming a Great American Condom Campaign SafeSite, sign up for our mailing list (top right) or check back in about 2 months when applications open again.   Or check out this list of how students, teachers, and administrators at community colleges can contribute to improving contraceptive access on their campuses.

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