Improving Success in Higher Education through Increased Access to Reproductive Health Services

Anna Bernstein, M.P.H., Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, M.A.

January 31, 2020
  • ID: B385

Introduction

Pregnancy and childbearing have implications for a number of economic and social outcomes, including educational attainment (Sonfield et al. 2013). Yet young people are often left without the knowledge and tools to make informed reproductive health decisions. The majority of adolescents and young adults are sexually active but many hold incorrect or limited information about how to effectively avoid unintended pregnancies (Kaye, Sullentrop, and Sloup 2009). This lack of information is particularly relevant for young people enrolled in college, whose educational pathway may be disrupted by an unplanned pregnancy (Bradburn 2003).

 

Access to a range of reproductive health services, including both contraception and abortion, is key to addressing students’ health needs and supporting their educational aspirations.

 

As higher education increasingly embraces a holistic approach to improving student outcomes, interventions designed to support students’ non-academic needs should include efforts to connect students with comprehensive reproductive health care. Access to a range of reproductive health services, including both contraception and abortion, is key to addressing students’ health needs and supporting their educational aspirations.

 

This briefing paper presents evidence on the association between childbearing and educational outcomes, illustrates the importance of addressing students’ reproductive health needs, and provides policy recommendations to improve college students’ access to reproductive health services and—in turn—their chances for educational and economic success.