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BROOKHAVEN, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
Gov. Phil Bryant says the epidemic of teen pregnancy must stop.
Tuesday, the governor held a town hall meeting in Brookhaven where he outlined the importance of abstinence and the use of contraceptives. Bryant hopes to reduce the teen pregnancy rate in our state by 2017.
State Senator Sally Doty is part of Bryant's appointed Teen Pregnancy Task Force, which is made up of governmental and community leaders who believe in the initiative to reduce and prevent births to teen mothers.
"It's an issue we don't want to talk about a lot of times. It's uncomfortable, but it's so important," Doty said.
"This is something we certainly need to address," Doty said. "It's an economic issue, but also it's a family issue and we want to have healthy families in Mississippi."
In 2010, 55 children were born to every 1,000 teens. That's more than 60 percent above the national average. said it's time that number is reduced.
"We would like to reduce teen pregnancy in the state of Mississippi by 15 percent by 2017. It's going to take one community, one family, one teenager at a time to help do that," Bryant said.
This problem does not just affect teens and their children, it's also affecting you.
"Well of course it costs. If you have a premature birth and an underweight baby which we lead that nation in, that could go from a $3,500 delivery on Medicaid for example, to a $200,000 cost," Bryant said. "And the rest of that child's life, whether its learning disabilities or other challenges they have are going to be paid for by the taxpayer."
Doty said this issue is going as far as affecting the entire state.
"Even the Mississippi economic council has state that one of our problems is in getting industry into the state is our teen pregnancy rate," Doty said.
Doty and Bryant agreed, they hope meetings like the one in Brookhaven encourage others to get out and talk to teens about the problem.
Tuesday's meeting was held at the First United Methodist Church in Brookhaven and was sponsored by the Brookhaven Junior Auxiliary.
Copyright 2012 Mississippi News Now. All rights reserved.
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