Many news agencies are reporting that for the first time since the early 1990s, the teen pregnancy rate is inching up. The long term decline cut across all racial groups and the reversal is also true. No one demographic stands out amongst young women ages 15 to 19.
USA Today reports:
The numbers, calculated by the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit group that studies reproductive and sexual health, show a clear reversal from the downward trend that began in the 1990s.
About 7% of teen girls got pregnant in 2006, a rate of 71.5 pregnancies per 1,000 teens. That’s up slightly from 69.5 in 2005, Guttmacher says. In 1990, when rates peaked, about 12% got pregnant.
Funding for abstinence doubled from 2000 to 2003, to $120 million. By 2008, funding was at $176 million. Guttmacher is an outspoken opponent of abstinence-only education.
“The focus on abstinence and the shifts in pregnancy occurred about the same time,” says Guttmacher’s Lawrence Finer.
“The issue here is clearly that we have a lot of teenagers who are having sex, but they aren’t careful enough at contraception to avoid pregnancy,” says Sarah Brown, executive director of the nonprofit National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, who has seen Guttmacher’s numbers.
Some speculated a rise in teen birth rates reported last year was a result of fewer abortions, but the data show otherwise. “There isn’t enough evidence to say there’s a causal relationship, but pregnancies overall are increasing, regardless of whether they’re carried to term or not,” Finer says.
Other groups attribute the rise in teen pregnancy to TV because of the ‘anything goes’ attitude shown on both network and cable TV. Advertising and fashion design are also blamed because the open push for younger and younger girls to look sexy comes from the huge teen marketing industry.
Guttmacher’s analysis of data shows an approximate increase of 4% in the pregnancy rate and a 1% in the abortion rate for women in this demographic. The National Center for Health Statistics will release additional statistics later this year.
The abstinence-only people feel very much under attack. The statistics aren’t in their favor and now without George Bush in office, their federal funds are drying up. Faith groups are now providing the funding for these abstinence groups.
Obviously this is bad news the United States. Early motherhood tends to trap women in lesser paying jobs and many in a cycle of poverty if they don’t have the home support. Babies having babies is a weak link in the family structure. What can be done? Can this become a national crisis? What can be done to reverse the new trend?