May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. In Utah, approximately 5,000 teenage girls become pregnant every year, and 58 percent of Utah's teen births occur to unmarried females. Also, 85 percent of pregnancies to Utah teens are unintended. Although unintended does not mean unwanted, it does mean unplanned. Our focus therefore should be on family planning, education and prevention of unintended pregnancies, especially among unmarried teenagers.

It is important that all pregnancy prevention education is age-appropriate. For teens, responsible and balanced programs that include both skills for delaying intercourse, abstinence and information about contraceptives have a demonstrated positive impact on reducing adolescent pregnancy and delaying first incidences of intercourse. School programs that promote both postponement and protected sex when sexually active are more effective than those promoting abstinence alone. In fact, comprehensive sexuality and AIDS education do not promote earlier or increased sexual activity in young people and have been shown to increase responsible actions regarding sex.I'm glad Gov. Mike Leavitt has recognized the importance of pregnancy prevention education by declaring May as Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. Along with most Utahns, I support responsible, comprehensive sex education in schools that includes both abstinence and contraceptive information.

Sonja E. Chesley

Salt Lake City