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?

3 Thoughts to “Teen Pregnancy and Abortion Rates Inch Up”

  1. Witness Too

    I do think it is a good prescription for happiness to wait until marriage to have sex. However, I don’t think the government should try to impose this. This was a fools errand, and also slightly Taliban-ish. I’m not at all surprised that it has had the opposite intended effect. Truly, in this day and age, policy should come from best practices studies; not from religious teachings, no matter how fervently believed they may be.

    I think these abstinence only programs should be cut, and health classes for our young people should involve safe sex education.

  2. Formerly Anonymous

    The Devil’s in the details on this study. Guttmacher includes women up to 19 in their studies as teenagers. (ie. If a woman gets pregnant the day before her 20th birthday it’s considered a ‘teen pregnancy’.) When you look at the breakouts by age, all the groups show declines in the pregnancy rate except for 18-19 year olds where there was an increase.

    While it may not be the best thing in the world, an increase in 18-19 year old women getting pregnant is not exactly what most people view as the ‘teen pregnancy problem’. They are legal adults and by the age of 18, they have already either completed high school or dropped out.

  3. Moon-howler

    And that is a good point. Girls/women (in MY mind you are still a girl at 18) in that top bracket also have some rather complicated medicaid issues if they live in their parents home. They used to not have maternity coverage.

    I am glad you leeched out that caveat. Now, what would be the point of presenting 15-19 trends as increasing if only the top brackets were increasing? I have a few ideas but …..

    I think sex ed programs are essential but I also think they are too politicized. I think the program ought to be appropriate to the location and age group. There are some localities where the teen pregnancy rate is high for 13 year olds. I am all in favor of someone sitting these at risk girls down and showing them how to use condoms and taking them to get on the pill if necessary. There are other areas that simply do not need hard core sex. Normal sex ed will do. Most people cannot imagine that their child would ever……(fill in the blanks) but many of them do–often it is the least likely.

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