Policy about pregnancy prevention is often concentrated on high schools. The thinking is that women often drop out of high school because they get pregnant; pregnancy prevents women from going to college. But according to community colleges, it’s more complicated than that. It’s actually unplanned pregnancies that occur while women are in school that’s trouble, no matter how old the student is. Women drop out of community colleges when they get pregnant, too. According to a recent article in Inside Higher Ed:

Last week, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonpartisan group, brought the issue to Capitol Hill, touting statistics about unplanned pregnancies at community colleges before educators and legislators in hopes of inspiring those at two-year institutions to help prevent these pregnancies among their students. The group’s latest informational brief and report note that 61 percent of students who have a child after enrolling in a community college drop out before finishing a degree or credential; this dropout rate is 64 percent higher than that of their counterparts who did not have children. On the whole, 48 percent of all community college students “have ever been pregnant or gotten someone pregnant.”

The National Campaign’s Andrea Kane points out that the majority of unplanned pregnancies actually happen to women in their 20s, not teenagers. The pregnancy prevention efforts at community colleges are a little different also. Because these women are adults, there’s no worry about controversy over sex education policy or parental opposition.

One school, Delaware Technical and Community College, used recent grant money to create a health clinic on campus. In addition to dealing with other health concerns, the clinic distributes birth control and the morning after pill.

A bill before the House Education and Labor Committee, “Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Support Parents Act,” allows demonstration grants of $15 million for the next two years to help prevent unplanned pregnancies at community colleges.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer