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Does baby equal I do? Why are Latinos still having unplanned pregnancies?

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The birth control coverage element of health care reform created controversy. My focus is not the merits of this debate; some religious institutes also take exception to vaccines, blood transfusions and furthermore one might argue Curanderas should be covered. A National Health Statistics Report for 2006-2010 indicated that 62% of pregnancies to unmarried women were unintended. Latina and Black women still had more unintended pregnancies than planned pregnancies. I applaud the efforts of the administration on this aspect of reform since there is an apparent need.

I looked further at the five year study and found that unmarried women, age 20-34, had 22% intended pregnancies. This made me think about a family friend who recently felt ‘forced’ to get married. I found it unsettling to see someone intentionally get pregnant out of marriage with this ongoing debate on birth control coverage.

I know some couples are resource limited and face the dilemma of unplanned pregnancies. The Washington Times recently sited that 1 in 3 children live without a father. These children are more likely to have behavioral issues and face poverty. Kathryn Edin  Professor at Harvard and author of “Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City”, was interviewed on Diane Rehm show. Kathryn said two things that stood out: for some men it’s about commitment more so than economics and the father may be committed to the baby but not the mother.

My friend is in his late thirties, professionally established, committed and was practically living with his girlfriend for years. When I said congratulations, his response was ‘she trapped me.’ She got pregnant on purpose to force him to marry, which he did. If it doesn’t work out the mother may have to interact with a man who isn’t committed to her, just his child. Is this forced marriage more challenged than one entered into by choice?

I’m not debating the relationship between two consenting adults. Rather, I’d like to discuss why an intelligent woman would do this on purpose. Some argued she simply forced a situation they both wanted. Others argued a baby doesn’t always equal marriage so she took a risk and it worked.  I maintain that my friend’s girlfriend, now wife, will not be confident in the relationship. She’ll wonder every time they argue which they will with a new baby. Already, she looks uncomfortable when he talks with me; his long time family friend. In my opinion she has no power in that relationship. However, others say if they live happily ever after, does it matter how it began? Recent studies indicate the U.S. birthrate was 1.9 but Latinos in the U.S. had the highest rate than any other ethnic group at 2.4. Why would anyone do this on purpose when economic stresses lead to declines in births? For that matter why are there still so many unplanned pregnancies?


By Being Latino Contributor, Julia Perez. Julia Perez is an electrical engineer and contributor for Being Latino.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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