ATLANTA (AP) — Jane Fonda said she plans to continue her effort to prevent teenage pregnancies through the Georgia-based nonprofit organization she founded in 1995, when the state had one of the highest teenage birth rates in the country.
Fonda, 77, celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential at a gala in Atlanta on Thursday.
CNN founder Ted Turner, former United States surgeon generals Joycelyn Elders and David Satcher and retired NBA player Julius Erving were among the more than 400 businesspeople and philanthropists who joined the actress and political activist at The St. Regis Atlanta for the celebration.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Fonda said that while the teenage pregnancy rate in the United States is lower than when she founded the nonprofit, sexual education programs in schools remain critical.
"When we started 20 years ago, it was so hard. I mean, there were many counties where we were not allowed to come in to talk about pregnancy, contraception, comprehensive sexuality education. ... Now, many of those same counties are begging us to come in because they've seen that it can make a difference," Fonda said.
Since 1991, the pregnancy rate for girls ages 15-19 in the United States has declined 61 percent. Still, in 2013, there were 26.5 births for every 1,000 adolescent girls in that age group — or 273,105 babies born — according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Birth rates were higher among Hispanic and black teenagers. Most were in southern states, including Texas, Arkansas and Georgia.
Fonda served as GCAPP's chair until she moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles in 2010. Three years ago, the organization expanded its mission to include nutrition and physical activity.