Unwed pregnancy still ‘high’ in Moffat County
Out-of-wedlock births trend up from 2000 to 2006
By the numbers
Yampa Valley Pregnancy Center
pregnancy tests and client visits
• 2008: 272
• 2007: 126
• 2006: 150
Pregnancy tests administered
• 2008: 44
• 2007: 63
• 2006: 43
A positive result on a pregnancy test can elicit a wide range of emotions for local women who visit the Yampa Valley Pregnancy Center.
"I've had women dissolve into tears," Director Debbie Rudd said. "I just kind of sit quietly and let them work through it and try to ascertain whether they're (crying) tears of happiness or if they're just totally upset.
"I've seen both."
Among its other clients, the Pregnancy Center provides services to single pregnant women. That demographic has increased steadily in the past.
In 2000, 22.6 percent of births in Moffat County were to single mothers, according to the Colorado Children's Campaign, a bi-partisan state nonprofit advocating for child health care and education.
The percentage of county unwed pregnancies jumped to 28.6 percent in 2001. That number increased again to 29.1 percent in 2002.
Out-of-wedlock pregnancies decreased to 28.8 percent and 28.6 percent in 2003 and 2004, respectively.
In 2005, unwed pregnancies increased again, this time to 31.7 percent. That demographic decreased to 31.1 percent in 2006, according to the Children's Campaign's 2008 KidsCount in Colorado survey.
That's about 3 percent more than Colorado's 28 percent average of single-parent births.
Because state groups, including the Children's Campaign, haven't yet released Moffat County data for 2007 or 2008, it's difficult to determine whether unwed pregnancies still are on the rise. But, the issue is a topic of concern for officials at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.
The number of unwed pregnancies in Moffat County still is "extremely high," said Cole White, VNA director of operations, at a meeting of the Moffat County Work and Life Skills program in December.
White added that he couldn't estimate how much unwed pregnancies have increased locally.
The Work and Life Skills program receives funding from Colorado Works, the state's welfare program. To meet funding requirements, Work and Life Skills administrators have included unwed pregnancy prevention in its curriculum to prepare local students for post-graduate life.
"I don't think you could nail down one particular item" contributing to the rise in unwed pregnancies, White said Friday.
He added that he believes a variety of factors, including decreased access to birth control and sex education, may account for the escalating number of unwed pregnancies.
Community attitudes may play a role, too.
Societal norms that make single motherhood less taboo also may explain why Moffat County unwed pregnancies have increased in the past, White said.
Dr. J. Scott Ellis, an obstetrician/gynecologist at The Memorial Hospital in Craig, was unavailable for comment Friday.
Local unmarried women still have cause to wonder if they are expecting the unexpected.
In 2008, more than half of the women who received pregnancy tests at the Pregnancy Center were unmarried, Rudd said.
Requested pregnancy tests in 2007 were split half and half between single and married women. However, 27 women requesting pregnancy tests in 2006 were single, while 11 were married, Pregnancy Center records show.
Demand for pregnancy tests at the organization have been down recently. The number of pregnancy tests administered at the Pregnancy Center decreased to 44 in 2008 from 63 in 2007.
At the same time, however, the Pregnancy Center recorded 272 visits in 2008 for practical items, including diapers and baby formula. That number, which includes repeat client visits, is up from the 126 visits the Pregnancy Center logged in 2007.
Deciphering the number of local unwed pregnancies from the Pregnancy Center's data is difficult for several reasons.
The organization, which was formerly located in the Country Mall building, lost two months' worth of 2007 records during the fire that consumed the building in November 2007.
Furthermore, not all unexpectedly pregnant women seek out the organization's services.
"I always know there's a lot more girls out there who may be pregnant but that I just never see," Rudd said.