Abstinence-only programs blamed for sudden rise in teen pregnancy

New data from the federally funded Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compiled by the Guttmacher Institute, reveals that pregnancies for 15 to 19-year-olds rose 3 percent between 2005-2006—-the first increase in teen pregnancies in over a decade. Teens are now getting pregnant at a higher rates than before the 1990s.

As reported by The Washington Post:

The abortion rate among teenagers rose 1 percent in 2006 from the previous year — to 19.3 abortions per 1,000 women in that age group. Taking that and miscarriages into account... the pregnancy rate among U.S. women younger than 20 in 2006 was 71.5 per 1,000 women, a 3 percent increase from the rate of 69.5 in 2005. That translated into 743,000 pregnancies among teenagers, or about 7 percent of women in this age group.

Among blacks, the rate increased from 122.7 per 1,000 in 2005 to 126.3. For Hispanics the rate rose from 124.9 per 1,000 women to 126.6. Among whites, the rate increased from 43.3 per 1,000 women to 44.0.

This means that about 7 percent of American females will get pregnant while they are teenagers. Of teen mothers, 2/3 live in poverty, less than 1/2  graduate high school, and only 2 percent will graduate college by the age of 30.

The Guttmacher group blames abstinence-only programs, which were instituted in the early 2000s and often coincided with laws that prevented the inclusion of information about contraceptives. Others spread the blame on the usual targets: missing parents and overly sexual content in films and TV.  Apparently none of these researchers have seen the innumerable examples of unprotected sex teens can access on the internet. Also, no one has mentioned studies that suggest more people stay in and have sex during a recession.

The Washington Post notes this research comes as the Senate considers allocating $50 million to abstinence-only groups. Over the past decade, $1.5 billion has been spent by federal and state governments on abstinence-only programs. Currently, an estimated 30 percent of U.S. school teach abstinence-only sex ed. Obama is pushing a $110 million pregnancy prevention initiative. This money will focus on tested methods of teaching safe sex, like Planned Parenthood, and some innovative ones like this public service announcement.

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