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New bilingual initiative combats unintended pregnancies with radio soap drama

LatinaLista — Teenage pregnancy. Unintended pregnancy. The two have become interchangeable to mean the same thing but while teen pregnancy among young Latinas has always been a concern,no one ever thinks unintended pregnancy matters to those women 18-30.


Well, especially in these times, it sure does. There are some people in Iowa who know this and are doing something about it — in a creative way.

The Iowa Initiative: To Reduce Unintended Pregnancy is a statewide bilingual program to reduce unintended pregnancies for young adult women. At the program’s site, there is information on everything from birth control options to finding a pharmacy that regularly stocks emergency contraception to health information on sexuality and reproductive health.

According to a fact sheet found at the site:

Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, one of the highest levels in the developed world. (Finer, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2006)

Unintended pregnancy is an especially severe problem for women under 30, minorities and low-income women. Among women giving birth in Iowa aged 20-25; half of all pregnancies are unintended. (Losch, M. Iowa Barriers to Prenatal Care, 2006)

Access to contraceptive services reduces the number of abortions, improves the lives of women, and saves tax dollars. Women who plan their pregnancies are more likely to finish school and begin careers or marry and enjoy healthier lives. (National Campaign, One In Three, 2007)

Yet, the creators of the initiative know that to reach certain target audiences, Latinas and black women, they needed something more than just a bunch of facts on a web site. So, together with the University of Iowa’s Fine Arts Dept., they created a radio soap opera, in both Spanish and English.

Also part of the Iowa Radio Project, the 15-minute radio soap in Spanish, “La Noche Te Da Sorpresas” (“The Night Gives You Surprises”) airs on Saturdays on four radio stations throughout the state.

Each program is followed by a 45-minute call-in show that connects listeners with doctors, pharmacists, nurses, family planning clinic staff members and community organizations.

The drama is 32 episodes long and follows the stories of three women and their relationship problems. As in classic novela style, there is enough drama in each episode to make listeners come back each time, and eventually, learn how they can have a happy ending in their lives too.

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