Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Huber Foundation Continues Longtime Support of Population Connection

By Natalie Widel, Development Associate

The Huber Foundation has supported Population Connection for nearly thirty years. This year, the Foundation contributed a $250,000 grant toward our ongoing program activities to stabilize population growth. This generous gift will enhance our education and advocacy efforts, which are part of Population Connection’s campaign to make population integral to the national discourse on environmental protection and reproductive/human rights.

Population Connection’s Population Education program reaches over three million students every year with fact-based curricula focused on population trends and their effects on people and our planet. Additional funding allows us to expand our volunteer teacher-trainer network through national workshops and staff visits to regions with large concentrations of interested teachers. We currently benefit from the in-kind contributions of more than 420 professional educators. These educators provide additional teachers with the training and materials necessary to teach students in kindergarten through twelfth grade about population growth in their classrooms.

Additionally, the Huber Foundation’s support assists our Government Relations and Grassroots staff working in three target congressional swing districts. As part of our “Double the Money” campaign, we seek to convince voters and members of Congress to support an increase in U.S. assistance for international family planning programs to $1 billion annually. Thanks to the Huber Foundation’s sizeable grant, Population Connection will be able to reach key constituents in these three target districts with the message that population stabilization is critical to solving many global challenges.

If you would like information about making a major gift to Population Connection, please contact Shauna Scherer, Major Gifts Manager, at

Thursday, July 1, 2010

House Panel Approves Big Increase for International Family Planning

By Brian Dixon

Yesterday, the House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, led by Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), approved $735 million for international family planning programs in 2011 – an $86.5 million, or 13 percent, increase over the current funding level.

It is also nearly $20 million more than President Obama requested. This commitment to family planning is very welcome and is especially impressive given the fact that the overall funding for international affairs is $4 billion less than the President sought.

We are, however, disappointed that the bill does not include a provision that would prevent the future imposition of the odious Global Gag Rule. Ninety-one House members, led by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), sent a letter to Chairwoman Lowey urging her to include this language in the bill. Without this provision, it is likely that the new resources will not be used as effectively as they could. The threat of a future reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule is causing many aid officials to avoid making grants to organizations – among the most experienced and effective family planning providers in the world – that may be disqualified again in just a few years.

The Senate is not expected to consider their version of the bill for several more weeks. We will urge the Senate to support similar funding levels for family planning programs, and to again include a permanent end to the Global Gag Rule in their version of the bill, as they did last year.

We will continue to follow the appropriations process as it unfolds, and we will keep you up to date on how you can help.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Women Deliver a Strong Message to Congress

By Brian Dixon, Vice President for Media and Government Relations

The Women Deliver conference was held in Washington, DC this week, bringing more than 3,500 people from 140+ countries together to focus on the desperate need to improve reproductive health and family planning access around the world.

The culmination of this event was Thursday’s Lobby Day. I spent the day as a “team leader,” meaning I made sure that three very impressive people from outside the United States could get around the Capitol complex to tell their stories to American legislators. My team consisted of the Honorable Saudatu Sani, one of the few female members of Nigeria’s House of Representatives; Dr. Nehemiah Kimathi, the director of the Safe Motherhood program for the International Planned Parenthood Federation Africa Region in Nairobi, Kenya; and Dr. Monica Jasis, who runs a program to improve adolescent reproductive health in Mexico.

It’s easy to get tired and frustrated by the seemingly endless debate about family planning and abortion that takes place in the United States. Hearing the stories of these people, who face challenges every day that Americans can barely even consider, makes clear how important this work really is. In Nigeria, and indeed in much of sub-Saharan Africa, stock outs of contraceptives are common. In Mexico, abortion opponents are encouraging doctors to breach medical privacy and denounce to the police women and girls they think might have had an unsafe, illegal abortion--making it less likely that these girls and women will seek urgent care in the case of such an abortion or even in the case of a miscarriage.

Their stories are important to share with members of the United States Congress. They need to hear what it's really like. Few have witnessed the often dire conditions in the developing world. Few have spoken to people from overseas who, while having no say in American politics, can have their lives turned upside down by what happens here in the U.S. For example, it is women served by the clinics overseen by Dr. Kimathi who are hurt by the imposition of the Global Gag Rule, and it is the constituents of Rep. Sani who lose out when the United States refuses to support the work of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). American officials and, indeed, American voters need to understand that what happens here has massive effects everywhere, and that it's time to invest in women. It pays.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Population Connection Earth Day Address

The following are comments by Population Connection President John Seager, at the University of Wisconsin

“If the world population continues to increase at the same rate, we will destroy the species.”

These are the words of Nobel Peace Laureate Norman Borlaug. He died last year at the age of 95. His agricultural research saved hundreds of millions of people from starvation.

He received that Nobel Prize in 1970, the same year that Senator Gaylord Nelson initiated the first Earth Day. Back then, the world’s population was growing by about 75 million people per year. Today, some 40 years later, it is growing by even more.

Now, we’ve made progress since 1970—and since 1968 when Stanford University’s Dr. Paul Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, which led to the creation of our group, then called Zero Population Growth, now Population Connection. The rate of population growth has halved since 1970—from 2% to 1.1%.

Then and now, Dr. Ehrlich was a scientist, not a soothsayer. And he did what all good scientists do, which is to develop a theory or thesis based upon the available data.

Since then, the world has continued to change. And the attention that Dr. Ehrlich drew to population growth has helped to change that world—just as the attention Sen. Nelson drew to the environment helped to change our world—in both cases for the better.

But environmental challenges persist. And new ones have surfaced over the past 40 years.

When it comes to population growth, many claim that the problem is behind us. The facts at hand show this is not the case.

Every day we add more than 200,000 people to the world population just as we did back in 1970. That’s roughly equal to another Madison every single day, another Milwaukee every three days.

Virtually all of this population growth occurs in the poorest places on earth, places when one billion people struggle to survive on less than one dollar day.

They are poor. And they are hungry. For most of them hunger is not a passing sensation but a constant daily reality. Some stave off their hunger by eating dirt biscuits, a concoction made mostly from, yes, dirt, which at least provides the sensation of fullness without any much-needed nourishment.

Consider the words of a man from Bedsa, Egypt who said, “Lack of work worries me. My children were hungry and I told them the rice is cooking, until they fell asleep from hunger."

Throughout these forty years, we’ve seen an argument, if you will, played out over and over. On one side are those who seek to raise the alarm about the consequences of rapid population growth. On the other side are those who contend technology will surmount this problem.

Will that happen? Will technology alone save the day? Dr. Borlaug didn’t think so. In his Nobel acceptance speech he warned of the consequences of rapid population growth.

Maybe the day will arrive when advances in agricultural technology will solve the global hunger crisis. But that day is not today. Today is the day that hundreds of millions of people will go to bed hungry. And they will get up tomorrow morning hungry. Today is the day that thousands of children will die from hunger-related causes.

Some contend that there is plenty of food to go around, that it’s just a distribution problem. I guess the same can be said of wealth. Here in the U.S., the per capita income is about $47,000 per year. Worldwide it’s about $8,000. So, by that line of reasoning, all we need to do is share the wealth as it were. Slash our incomes by 80% to about $8,000, share the rest, and voila, problem solved. To quote the great comedic author P. G. Wodehouse, that contingency seems remote. In the real world, in today’s world, people in sub-Saharan Africa survive on less than $1,000 year, on average. In others words their annual income is about the same as the weekly income in the U.S. In many parts of Africa it is far worse than that. In the Congo it’s less than $300 year. Does anyone think that people can meet all their needs for food, clothing, shelter, health care, education and all the rest on a dollar day? Well that’s what one billion of us must do. Incidentally it’s not that money goes farther in poor places. The economists use something called Purchasing Power Parity to equalize the value of goods, so for one billion of us it’s just like trying to survive in Madison on less than one dollar a day. Not a dollar a day, less than dollar a day.

What does the future hold? According to UN population projections, not predictions, projections, by 2050 the world population, which now stands at more than 6.8 billion will increase to somewhere between 8 and 11 billion people. Let’s consider the spread in those numbers. The difference between the high and low projections is three billion. So, in a world which already has one billion or more hungry people, we must figure out how to feed them, plus feed somewhere between an additional one billion and four billion additional people.

The range in population projections by 2050, which is three billion, is the same as the total world population was in 1960. It’s equal to the population today of the entire world except Asia. That’s what’s in play, about three billion people.

So depending on what we do or do not do, on what happens over the next 40 years, we may have the additional challenge of feeding another North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Australia. Or we may not.

So what can we do?

Population growth is the only global challenge I know of where the following three things are all true.
  1. We know the solution;
  2. It’s relatively inexpensive;
  3. Women everywhere want it.
A big part of the solution involves money, and, relatively speaking, not much of it. For years, Congress and then-President Bush dragged their heels, placing obstacles such as the Global Gag Rule in the way and slashing U.S. funds for family planning.

Times have changed. President Obama rescinded the Global Gag Rule. He restored funding for UN family planning programs. Last year, thanks to President Obama and to a majority in Congress, we saw a 40% increase in funds for international family planning.
According to the Global Health Council, this increase of $180 million will result in:
  • 1.6 million fewer unplanned births;
  • 1.4 million fewer abortions;
  • 110,000 fewer Infant deaths.
And it will save the lives of more than 6,000 mothers—enabling them to help take care of their families and, hopefully, to live productive lives.

And that’s all in a single year. And all for about 60 cents per year for each person in the U.S.
So, money matters. And Congress holds the purse strings.

Some year ago, Dr. Joel Cohen of Rockefeller University researched and wrote a book with the title How Many People Can the Earth Support? In it he reviewed every study of the subject conducted over the past 400 years. After much work, he arrived at the reasoned conclusion that there is no answer to the question. Or rather the answer lies in two other questions. How do we wish to live? And how do we want others to live?

As Dr. Cohen put it:
“The real issue with population is not just numbers of people, although numbers matter and statistics give us quantitative insight and prevent us from making fools of ourselves. The real crux of the population question is the quality of people’s lives; the ability of people to participate in what it means to be really human; to work, play and die with dignity; to have some sense that one’s life has meaning and is connected with other people’s lives. That, to me, is the essence of the population problem.”
We no longer have the luxury of focusing on “one big thing” whether it’s climate change or food production or biodiversity. If not expert, we must all become knowledgeable, about areas outside our own disciplines. We must get outside our own comfort zones. We must look beyond the borders of our gardens, our towns, our cities, our states, and our nation. As Sen. Nelson understood so well, we simply cannot afford to avoid challenges simply because they are too big, too controversial, too complex, too far away. To quote an old recycling maxim, there is no longer an “away” to throw things, nor is there an “away” to stow problems. Everything is right here. And everything is right now. Our actions can and will create a better, safer, less-crowded world. But only if we choose to learn, only if we choose to act.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Mary Wohlford Foundation Contributes to Population Connection’s Grassroots Outreach

By Shauna Scherer, Major Gifts Manager

The Mary Wohlford Foundation renewed its support of Population Connection this year with a $30,000 commitment. This grant will fund two grassroots fellows who will work alongside field and outreach staff to build constituencies supportive of progressive domestic and international population policies. Alexis Katzelnick-Wise, a graduate of George Mason University with a Master’s degree in Political Science and International Relations, has been selected to serve as the first fellow for 2010.

The Mary Wohlford Foundation’s continuing support allows Population Connection to develop grassroots advocacy skills among young leaders who can positively affect public opinion about women’s reproductive rights and access to contraception. This year’s fellows will play an integral role in building momentum for Population Connection’s Double the Money campaign, which urges Congress to increase the United States’ investment in international family planning aid to $1 billion a year.

The path to a stable population is direct: universal access to affordable, modern family planning services. Yet more than 215 million women worldwide have no access to birth control despite their desire to limit or delay pregnancies. By raising the United States’ share of family planning aid to $1 billion, women and men will receive reproductive health services fundamental to their health and the health of our planet.

For every $100 million invested in international family planning programs:
  • 3.6 million more contraceptive users will be added,
  • 2.1 million unintended pregnancies will be avoided,
  • 825,000 fewer abortions will occur,
  • 70,000 infant deaths will be averted, and
  • 4,000 women will not die in childbirth.
With world population projected to climb to seven billion in 2011, Population Connection is intensifying efforts to raise awareness and educate the public about the detrimental consequences of such rapid population growth. If you would like to become an active voice in your community, please contact Rebecca Harrington, National Field Coordinator, at

If you would like to receive information about making a major gift to Population Connection, please contact Shauna Scherer, Major Gifts Manager, at

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book Review: The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050

By Marian Starkey

Joel Kotkin, author of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, quotes, "Growth is like toothpaste. Squeezed out of one location, it must go somewhere else." America, it turns out, is that somewhere else. And, according to him, we are lucky that that is the case.

Kotkin predicts that America's relatively high population growth, heavily bolstered by immigration and the descendants of immigrants, will be the magic bullet that will make our economy the strongest in the world, outperforming the aging and shrinking countries of Europe and Eastern Asia. The United States is comparatively welcoming to new immigrants, and second-generation immigrants are much better integrated into American life than their European and Asian counterparts, who tend to live and work in ethnic enclaves and maintain the traditions of their countries or origin.

Without the fear mongering that typically accompanies this discussion, Kotkin states that the U.S. will no longer be a "white country" in 2050. In other words, the United States will be a "majority-minority" country. Because of rapid assimilation, this trend should be welcomed because after a generation or two, immigrants are just as "American" as Americans whose families have lived here for hundreds of years.

Kotkin postulates that the other phenomenon that contributes to higher population growth in the United States is Americans' elevated level of religiosity. In Europe and East Asia, only one in ten young adults belong to an organized religion. By contrast, 60% of Americans believe that religion is "very important" and 75% young Americans consider their religious views important. The author concedes that, "In all countries including the United States, growing affluence and mass education have a dampening effect on people’s willingness to have children." However, he says education and wealth have affected childbearing to a much lesser extent in the U.S., largely due to the fact that religious people everywhere tend to have more children than nonbelievers.

Not mentioned, is the fact that half of all pregnancies and a third of all births are unintended in this country. Far be it for government to dictate how many children couples should have. The government could, however, play a larger role in educating Americans about reproduction and pregnancy prevention so that more pregnancies, and especially pregnancies to teens, could be better timed, i.e. later. Many European countries are experiencing zero population growth largely because teenagers and young adults understand how reproduction works and have easy access to the education and services they need to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Of course the author doesn't mention that these unplanned teen pregnancies usually have negative socio-economic and health outcomes for both the mothers and the babies, detracting from his "high population growth equals strong economic growth theory."

Kotkin outlines the changes that will be necessary in urban planning and commuting trends in order to accommodate another hundred million inhabitants in the next forty years. He dismisses as snobbish the distaste urbanites have for the suburbs with the fact that, actually, most people in this country prefer to live in the 'burbs (the so-called "nurseries for the nation") for the green space and affordability they offer. And survey data show that one in three Americans would like to live in a rural area but do not do so for lack of professional jobs. With the rising popularity of telecommuting and businesses forming or relocating to peri-urban outposts to save money, fulfilling peoples' desire to live the simple life may not be such a distant dream.

He accepts that Americans are addicted to driving and that many would not use public transit even if it were convenient and affordable. Therefore, according to him, building more urban villages centered around subway stations is probably not the answer. Developing suburban communities centered around jobs and recreation opportunities, however, is the best possible solution. At least the people who would drive to work and the grocery store no matter what, would be driving shorter distances.

I like Kotkin's optimism, and agree that many Americans won't live in high-density cities regardless of how convenient and culturally stimulating they are. His idealism sometimes gets in the way of facts though: he exemplifies Los Angeles as the modern, commuter-friendly city of the future. That's a bit backward since LA consistently rates worst for traffic in national data analyses. The wide variety of neighborhoods spread out over vast acreage does not necessarily mean that people are able to afford to live in those neighborhoods that are closest to their jobs.

His hypothesis does make some sense if all we care about is fitting people inside the country's borders. If people can live and work in suburbia or in rural America, currently undeveloped land can absorb the excess population of the next four decades...

...But only if we don't mind tearing up the green space and wildlife habitats that make living on the edges of suburbia so attractive to so many Americans. “As urbanized regions become even more crowded and expensive, and as new technologies emerge, more and more Americans will find their best future in the wide open spaces that, even in 2050, will still exist across the continent.” It's anyone's guess how long those wide open spaces would exist beyond 2050 if we exploit them to the extent that Kotkin suggests.

He takes shots at environmentalists and "aesthetes" for caring more about nature and its beauty than people and their happiness. He doesn't agree with conserving nature for nature's sake. Rather, he believes that people are entitled to carve up the land however they wish, as long as it makes their lives more comfortable and lucrative.

Since persistent land development is inevitable as long as the population continues to grow, and much of the fertility-dependent population growth in this country is actually an economic burden due to the social programs it necessitates, rather than a boon to the economy in the form of educated workers, I still vote for stabilizing population in the United States.

There are a lot of reasons that the United States should welcome documented immigrants. But the U.S. should also help developing countries slow population growth through family planning assistance so that there isn't as much "toothpaste" to be squeezed. Whether here or "there," population growth places demands on infrastructure and the environment that no amount of urban planning can counterbalance.

*New* Here's an interview with the author, in which he explains why he thinks the U.S. can sustain high population growth.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Book Review: Second Nature

By Marian Starkey

Jonathan Balcombe, PhD--Population Connection member and animal behavioralist--sent me a copy of his new book, Second Nature, as soon as it was printed. I only wish I had gotten it a few weeks earlier so that I could have reviewed it for the last issue of The Reporter, which focused on animals and the ways in which human population growth impacts them.

The book was so interesting and accessible that I almost felt guilty reading it at work. Dr. Balcombe provides entertaining anecdotes and objective research results that reveal the magnificent sentience of so many species that we often think of as operating on survival autopilot.

We learn that bats and chimps will share their food if they realize that others in their group are going without; that zebras will only travel as fast as their slowest member is able to go (debunking the myth that injured or old animals are always left to die in the wild); and that many animals will nurse an orphaned baby of their same species even though there is no genetic advantage to them doing so.

Other examples of animal emotiveness abound: A whale showed gratitude when divers untangled it from fishing ropes, nuzzling each diver individually afterward. Elephants expressed grief over the death of another elephant, but also showed remorse over the death of a human keeper that they accidentally killed. A dog refused to do tricks when he realized that the dog next to him was being rewarded with food for doing tricks and he was not (he understood that the situation was unfair).

If this book were just a collection of funny, interesting, and sometimes heart-rending animal stories, I wouldn't be reviewing it here (although I would still read it on my own for pleasure). But since Dr. Balcombe dedicated the last section of the book to the detrimental effects of human population growth for the animal kingdom, Second Nature is extremely relevant to our mission.

The author explains the concept of both human and animal carrying capacity--the biological limit to how many of a certain species can be sustained in a given area. He describes the ways that humans are the greatest contributing factor to the current Sixth Great Extinction of Species. And he convinces the reader that animals' lives are complex and valuable and worth saving.

He advocates for reducing (or even better, eliminating) meat consumption but does not preach or condescend. He also mentions lack of knowledge of family planning in the context of unsustainable population growth in the developing world. He stops short of advocating for increased funding for family planning or liberalized contraceptive laws. Such a stance would have been outside the scope of the book though, which is really meant to change the way we think about the other life on this planet and how humanity is not necessarily the pinnacle of evolution, deserving to destroy everything in its path for its own "advancement."

I highly recommend this book, but in case you don't get around to reading it, here are some population-relevant excerpts:
“Human population growth—and the concomitant increase in human consumption of resources—underlies some of the most serious problems faced by animals, including humans. Conventional wisdom holds that the planet is filled to capacity, and there isn’t room for any more consumers, human or nonhuman. When we add more, others have to make room. Which means that as the human population grows, other organisms are inevitably being pushed out.”

“It has been calculated that if twentieth-century rates of human population increase continued for the next thousand years, a mass of humanity would cover the earth shoulder to shoulder more than a million deep; another thousand years on and the mountain of humanity would be approaching the edge of the known universe, traveling outward at the speed of light. This imaginary scenario illustrates the inevitable link between economic growth and ecological sustainability. It also shows that any link between growth and a higher quality of (human) life is tenuous, and at best temporary. As long as economic models are defined by growth in consumption, ecosystems will increasingly feel the strain as more human consumers population the land, and as more resources get used up.”

“We can be certain that with more humans there will be fewer animals living free in the world. Animals need wild places to live, and we continue to take them away. Nearly half of all tropical rain forests worldwide have been destroyed for human use, and about one percent of what remains is being taken away each year.”

“Having more humans on earth does not improve the quality of life for humans, either. Human overpopulation has strong links to poverty and hunger (admittedly not new problems), pollution and climate change. In tropical regions, local population density has been directly correlated to the poverty status of the local people, most of whom lack an education in family planning. Human overpopulation is driving climate change through loss of trees and the burning of fossil fuels.

"These ills denote a self-centered ethic--an unwillingness to restrain ourselves. A paradigm shift in humanity's relationship to the planet and its other life forms requires the acknowledgment that growth is no longer a good thing. Chief among those things that need to stop growing is the human population.

"Today, however, addressing human overpopulation remains firmly off the public policy agenda. This is paradoxical when the problem either fosters or exacerbates so many of the challenges faced by modern societies: hunger, gridlock, habitat and biodiversity loss, water shortages, violent conflict. The idea that growth is progress is an anachronism that today serves only those relatively few who profit from another residential development and a longer line at the cash register."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"A New (and Improved) Abstinence Only?"

By Stacie Murphy, Policy Associate

There’s a lot of talk in the press today about a new study indicating that there’s an abstinence-only program out there that appears to actually work. I have to admit, I did a double-take when I saw the headline. Really? One of those horrible, hectoring, having-sex-makes-you-as-appealing-as-a-spit-covered-sucker programs actually works?

Well, no, in fact. The new study examines a program that wouldn’t even have been eligible for funding under the Bush Administration guidelines (although, ironically, it appears that the new Obama Administration initiative would be willing to fund an effort like this one). Unlike traditional abstinence programs, this program didn’t tell students that they should wait until marriage, just that they should wait until they were really ready to deal with sex and its consequences. It didn’t talk about sex in a negative way and didn’t sermonize about the evils of all non-marital sex. It didn’t denigrate the effectiveness of condoms and contraception; on the contrary, teachers were instructed to correct such views if students offered them. The program focused instead on increasing students’ knowledge about HIV and other STIs, helping them to consider how early sex might interfere with their future goals, and teaching them how to resist pressure to have sex when they didn’t want to. And it seems like it worked: two years after completing the program, only a third of students had become sexually active, compared with half the students in the control group.

So am I an abstinence-only convert? Of course not (although I am a certified abstinence educator). I don’t doubt that a program like this one—straightforward, nonjudgmental, and truthful—could have a real impact for some kids. But I worry that the impact is limited—the kids in this program were between 12 and 14. Will a program that works for younger teens be as effective for 16 and 17-year olds? And what about the kids who aren’t convinced by the lessons? What about the kids who were already having sex when the program started? What about the one third of kids who had sex anyway after going through the program? Do they have access to the tools and information they need to make healthy decisions about their “post-abstinence” sexuality?

I’d argue that “later is better” is a perfectly appropriate message for teens, especially very young teens, to hear about sex—and one that many comprehensive sex education advocates have been including for years. But it can’t be the only message. If the price of convincing some to abstain is leaving others totally unprotected and ill-prepared, then we’ve failed.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Alarming Teen Pregnancy Rate Increase

By Marian Starkey, Director of Communications

A new and disturbing trend in American teens' reproductive outcomes has been revealed this week with the publication of a Guttmacher Institute report. Researchers found that in 2006 the teen birth rate increased 4%, the teen pregnancy rate rose 3%, and the teen abortion rate went up 1%. Preliminary data for 2007 show the pregnancy rate increasing again.

The teen pregnancy rate in the United States peaked in 1990 at 12%, and has been dropping consistently every year since (although higher than in 2005, the 2006 rate was still only 7.15%, at 750,000 total teen pregnancies).

The biggest jump in teen pregnancies occurred among African American women. About 80% of teen pregnancies are unintended, with the rates being much higher for women of color. The fact that more black teens are accidentally getting pregnant shows that we are doing an insufficient job of reaching minority/disadvantaged teens with important pregnancy prevention information and services.

Among states with available data, the pregnancy rates for white teens were highest in Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia and Mississippi--southern states that favor abstinence-only education.

Many journalists and teen pregnancy-prevention workers have come out this week condemning the sex education approach of the Bush Administration. You'll find many of their articles linked on our website. Indeed, the rate of teen pregnancy decline slowed and then reversed during the Bush Administration. Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said “This new study makes it crystal clear that abstinence-only sex education for teenagers does not work.”

The federal government spent over $1.5 billion on abstinence-only sex education programs in the last decade. Studies have found that abstinence-only programs do not delay the age at which teens first have sex. Instead, students of "ab-only" programs are less likely to use contraception when they do become sexually active, due to the lies they've been fed about inflated failure rates, and lack of knowledge about where and how to obtain contraceptive methods. This quote from the Guttmacher report supports the theory that pregnancy rates are increasing due to lower rates of contraceptive use.
Recent research concluded that almost all of the decline in the pregnancy rate between 1995 and 2002 among 18-19-year-olds was attributable to increased contraceptive use. Among women aged 15–17, about one-quarter of the decline during the same period was attributable to reduced sexual activity and three-quarters to increased contraceptive use.
The Obama Administration has ended funding for abstinence-only programs and is currently launching a $110 million pregnancy prevention initiative, which will only fund programs that have been proven effective at reducing teen pregnancy.

This country gave abstinence-only programs a fair shot and they failed. It's time to move on to something more effective. Our teens are counting on the adults in their lives to educate them about safe sex. The only way to do that is with objective, medically-accurate information.