Public health goal #1 for Mesa County: |

Public health goal #1 for Mesa County:

Phil Mohler, M.D.
Free Press Health Columnist

Despite the availability of safe and reliable contraceptive options, unintended pregnancies represent almost half of all pregnancies in the U.S. — more than 3 million annually. The U.S. unintended pregnancy rate has remained unchanged recently and is significantly higher than that of other developed countries.

Rates of unplanned pregnancies are highest among low income and minority women, in part due to poorer access to care — especially contraception. Since 1990, Mesa County teenagers have had higher rates of unintended pregnancies than the rest of the state every year, except 2002.

Preventing unplanned pregnancy prevents maternal deaths and other risks associated with pregnancy. The risk of death from taking the birth control pill for young women is 1 in 1,667,000 — about the same likelihood as getting hit by lightning. At the same time, the risk of death associated with being pregnant in the U.S. is 200 times as great.

Women who are able to time their pregnancies are more likely to complete their educations, pursue job opportunities, and establish financial stability.


We are talking about sending people to Mars, but we can’t effectively time pregnancies?

There is some positive news:

• The Mesa County Health Department continues to offer family planning services to all couples (yes men, we too can be part of the solution). Fees are modest and based on ability to pay.

• Emergency contraception (the morning-after pill) is now available over the counter to young women of all ages. It is behind the counter, but available without a prescription.

• The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) mandates that employers will provide insurance coverage for contraception. Sectarian employers should not intrude upon the private health decisions of their employees.

• Since 2007, there has been a steady decline in births among Mesa County teens.

Dr. Mohler has practiced family medicine in Grand Junction for 38 years. He has a particular interest in pharmaceutical education. Phil works part-time for both Primary Care Partners and Rocky Mountain Health Plans. Email him at

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