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baltimoresun.com

Getting past ideological differences to reduce teen pregnancy

12:00 PM EDT, September 13, 2013

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Hal and Chuck Donofrio deserve the praise they received for their innovative media program to reduce unwanted teen pregnancy ("Abstinence with an attitude," Sept. 9).

Their efforts began with an ideologically bipartisan effort of state legislators.

Two pro-life lawmakers, state Sen. Frank Kelly and Del. Timothy Maloney, joined two pro-choice members, Sen, Catherine Riley and myself, to advocate for increased funding for family planning and counseling services, expanded adoption efforts and a television ad campaign that tells teens "it's OK to say no."

Nearly two-thirds of the members of the General Assembly signed our letter to former Gov. Harry Hughes urging him to fund an "historic legislative budget request."

The governor added $2.9 million to his budget for these programs. This money, along with private funds raised by Mr. Donofrio, began the media campaign.

Maryland currently promotes abstinence education for youth under two federal programs authorized by the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Contraceptive education is also provided with these federal dollars.

In 1986, Maryland's birthrate among teens ages 15 to 19 was 40.2 per 1,000. By 2011, it had fallen to just 24.7 per 1,000

We have made significant progress, but the need still exists. We must think and work across ideological lines again.

Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg

The writer, a Democrat, represents Baltimore City in the Maryland House of Delegates.