Fonda, 82, founded the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention in 1995, when she lived in Atlanta and when Georgia had the highest teenage birth rate in the United States. Now it says its programs reach more than 60,000 young people every year.
“Twenty-five years ago, if we had gone into Grady County or White County or said we’d like to talk to you about teaching comprehensive sexuality in school, we would have been thrown out or arrested,” Fonda told The Associated Press. “Counties that didn’t want us to be there are now inviting us in, and that’s very gratifying.”
Fonda is hosting a virtual celebration and fundraiser on Thursday with recording artist Trisha Yearwood.
Retired Major League Baseball right fielder Hank Aaron will present the Lifetime Humanitarian Award to Fonda's ex-husband, CNN founder Ted Turner President Jimmy Carter is also expected to deliver a message during the celebration.
In 2012, the organization changed its name to Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential and expanded its mission beyond teenage pregnancy prevention to include nutrition and physical activity.
“If you put a map across the United States that showed pockets of poverty and distress, those would correspond with where our teen pregnancy rates are high,” Fonda said. “Hope is the best contraceptive. If you help a child see a future for themselves they will be motivated to either not have sex or to use contraceptives responsibly when they do.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the birth rate for 15- to 19-year-olds dropped 5% in 2019. It’s fallen almost every year since 1991.
Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana have the highest teenage birth rates in the United States. Birth rates also remain higher among Native American, Hispanic and Black teenagers.
Fonda served as GCAPP’s chair until she moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles in 2010.
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