We must start from the premise what speaking about teenage pregnancy is speaking about a risky pregnancy – it does not only imply a risk for the mother but also for her child, with a big probability of morbility-mortality for both during pregnancy, birth and/or puerperium.
We must have in mind teenage pregnancy is not only a problem of female teenager but it covers to male teenager, families of both an society itself, closing so a group of sequels repercuting on health and development of involved individuals inside this issue.
Once this anchors person to individual under-development in most cases, it has a big impact in social-economic development of population, limiting its resources.
In this point, the teenager must be considered as a changemaker for social development, investing to give him or her tools for his or her skills development; assuming, respecting and spreading their rights as persons, and creating spaces for their development as social members as well.
All this need becomes visible when reviewing the greater amounts of teenage pregnancy because of lack of information on sexual and reproductive health(SRH), which means the teenager does not know rights, rights to perform sexuality based on self-rating as a free, informed and totally regarding responsible person, and the need of sexual education that allows developing skills to postergate the beginning age of sexual relations, if they decide it so.
Why must not a teenager get pregnant?
It is known, in most cases, that teenage pregnancy is not free, informed and much less planned, having an impact on personal and social area, not taking health issues yet, limiting development opportunities, as well as their rights.
It is known the most cases of teenage pregnancy are expressed in people with few money, in poverty situation and social exclusion, people already showing access lack to education and health, bringing out individuals with low or almost nule development opportunities to the world, those are shown since early times, frustration in life plans and unadequate transition to adult life, setting up and enlarging poverty and under-development of society.
Under these criteria, we have desertion and empty schools, low-remunerated jobs, and sometimes under less than human conditions, raising gender violence indexes, broken families, among others.
In the other hand, we have all the problems around teenage pregnancy.
Here we face increasing of morbility/mortality during birth and after-birth, that is expressed in obsthetric complications due to biological inmadurity and constitutionof female teenager.
Just to mention some, we have: hypertension, hemorrages and infections, and abortion, those many times are done at unhealthy places, so they unchain a series of events attempting health, unless they finish on death.
Here we also face directly to suicide, what is very hard to draw out.
We also have malnutrition not only in the mother because it is proven that female teenagers have more probability to have a child with low weight after birth.
Teenage Pregnancy Law
Unfortunately,there are two big legal obstacles to limit the access of teenagers to sexual and reproductive health services in Peru.
In one side, we have 28704 Rule, article 173, that punishes any sexual relation between and with teenagers, including freely agreed ones, negatively impacting on teenagers’ access to SRH services because there is fear to legal fine if teenagers attend to health services without parents or preceptors.
In the other side, we have General Rule of Health, article 4, that interpretate s teenager under 18 years old as dependant on agreement and companion of parents or preceptors to access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health ones.
Under this legal context, teenager can not access to adequate information by sexual and reproductive health specialists and contraceptive supplies , absence of pre-birth attention for already pregnant female teenager , in some cases the unadequate birth attention , among others. So all this just gets the situation worst empowering mother and just born child’s morbility/mortality because, as we said before, there is fear to legal fine.
Peruvian Government, realising this legal crack, rules a Supreme Court’s linking precedent that states as inconstitutional the punishment of agreed sexual relations between and with teenagers from 14 to 18 years old, propitiating so free access and empowering of teenagers to sexual and reproductive health. However, its application needs time to get significant changes, as well it is needed continuing with advocacy to get a better access and service related to teenager’s sexual health.
Numbers of teenage pregnancy
According to Population and Social Development Demographic Survey (ENDES in Spanish) , in Peru, in 2012, 29% of female teenagers are sexually active, 13% of female teenagers from 15 to 19 years old are already mothers and/or are already pregnant of their first child. From total amount of teennage pregnancies, the proner and more vulnerable to pregnancy are the poorest, with few education and living at rural areas.
From total amount of pregnant female teenagers, only 32% wished to get pregnant.
All this let us to see an integral reality of teenager as a sexual subject, not as someones under a false moral veil who still pretend to conceive the teenager as as not-sexed subject without need of sexual education, because as they say, to speak the teenager about sexuality means “getting up morbidity and leading to sin.”
What must we do?
It must invest on teenager’s integral health, creating differentiated spaces for them, assigning proffessional specialists on sexual and reproductive health with a vision to postergate the beginning of teenagers’ sexual relations who want it so, offering needed tools to strengthen decisions taking and mutual respect.
To reach articulation of education and health, getting to hire sexual and reproductive specialists to give an adequate and held training in schools, assuring teenagers the differentiate access to their integral attention at different health centers.
To give free, on-time orientation and advisory to teenagers who already have an active sexual life, getting the right use of contraceptive method to avoid teenage pregnancy.
It must understand a female teenager is not mature because she is a mother but a female teenager with all limitations this life phase carries on, having to face the world for making a child to grow up.
Let’s make the change!
Thanks Jhon Gomez for his legal advisory. Marco Paulini is a proffessional obsthetrician. Send him your questions to his Twitter account, @MarcoPaulini.
Translated by Nelson Peñaherrera for FACTORTIERRA.NET.