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.


  1. Hi,

    I was wondering if Population Connection considers adoption as a way of controlling growth rates? I think it would be a good compliment to the increased education and other measures that have been proposed. I looked on the site but was not able to find anything about adoption of children.

    Perhaps a family would consider adoption as an option instead of having kids of their own?

  2. Hi Alex,

    Thanks for your comment. Population Connection does not have an official stance on adoption, although we recognize that if adoption were an easier (and less expensive) process, more American couples would be willing to consider it. Of course we would encourage couples who would like to expand their families to consider adoption.

    I do know that Caucasian babies born in this country are in high demand and that couples are often on waiting lists for years to receive them. Babies that belong to ethnic minorities, however, are less "adoptable" in this country and many are actually sent to couples in Canada because there is not enough demand for them here in the United States. Perhaps, given that fact, the place to start is with reducing stigma toward the mixed race family in the U.S.


  3. Thanks! I had not considered that aspect before. I also agree that streamlining the process would be an improvement.

    1. So why don't you make a space for adoption

  4. as described in this excellent blog abstinence does not work ... we do talks or workshops of contraceptive methods and abstinence ... many young people are taking generic viagra in its relations but do not need because they do not have any problem and that they harm health

  5. Pre teen sexual abuse and unprotected sex results in teenage pregnancy. The rate of teenage pregnancy and abortion in United States is very high. Teenagers suffering from pregnancy can take help of professional counselors. Healthcare specialists recommend abstinence based education and healing programs which help struggling teens to overcome depression and stress. More sex educational programs should be recommended by organizations for adolescents to learn about sexual problems.