Big Decline in Teenage Pregnancy Rate Thanks to Contraception
The teen pregnancy rate in the US is at a nearly 40-year-low due to contraceptive use, a report from the Guttmacher Institute has found.
Teen pregnancy peaked in 1990, when it occurred in 116.9 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15 – 19. In 2008, it occurred in 67.8 pregnancies per 1,000, a decline of 42% according to a report by Kathryn Kost and Stanley Henshaw of the Guttmacher Institute.
In addition, the birthrate among teens declined 35% from 1991 to 2008, falling from 61.8 to 40.2 births per 1,000 teens. The abortion rate also fell by 59% from a 1988 peak of 43.5 abortions per 1,000 teens to 17.8 per 1,000 in 2008.
Contraceptive use among teens played a key role in the decline in teenage pregnancies, birthrates and abortions. As the report states,
Continuing decreases in teen pregnancy more recently may be driven by increased use of the most effective contraceptive methods as well as dual method use. In sum, teens appear to be making the decision to be more effective contraceptive users, and their actions are paying off in lower pregnancy, birth and abortion rates.
While researchers found significant reductions in teenage pregnancies, birthrates and abortions among all racial and ethnic groups, these rates are still 2-3 times higher for black and Hispanic teens as they are among non-Hispanic white teens. The teen pregnancy rate has fallen by 37% among Hispanics, 48% among blacks and 50% among non-Hispanic whites from 1990, when it peaked. But birthrates among black and Hispanic teenagers, and abortion rates among Hispanics, are twice as high as they are among non-Hispanic whites, while abortion rates are four times higher in black teenagers than they are among non-Hispanic whites.
Democratic Politicians Back Off from Supporting Contraception Proposal
Democratic politicians have suddenly gotten cold feet about supporting the Obama administration’s rule that all insurance plans, including those at religious-run institutions such as Catholic universities, cover contraception without additional co-pays. As Evan McMorris-Santoro writes on Talking Points Memo, with GOP lawmakers including House Speaker Republican John Boehner calling for a law to block the contraception rule, pro-choice Democrats have been “bailing”:
Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine — the past chair of the DNC and now a candidate for U.S. Senate — told a Virginia radio show that he’s opposed to the new White House rules. Rep. John Larson (CT), a member of the House Democratic leadership with 100% voting score from NARAL, released a in which he also split with the White House on the contraception rules.
The opposition of Kaine, Larson and others is certainly disappointing. Most Americans — including the majority of Catholics — support the Obama administration’s proposal and, indeed, think that there should be increased access to contraception.
Talking Points Memo also cites a private poll conducted in August by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake for pro-health care reform organization The Herndon Alliance. This poll shows that the majority of Americans do not think that an exemption for providing birth control should be make on religious grounds. The poll also found that more than half of Catholics polled said that the position of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on the the new health care law, without the birth control exemption, did not matter to them. Indeed, Public Policy Polling (D) numbers that were commissioned by Planned Parenthood show that “Americans support unfettered access to contraception through Catholic health plans.”
A number of my college students are single mothers, with children ranging in age from birth to six years old; my students were between 15 and 19 when they became pregnant. Certainly they love their kids and take the best care they can of them, as any parent, but early single parenthood has certainly had a decisive effect on my students’ career choices and lives.
We need to make sure that all women including teenagers have access to contraception. It is vital for their health; for their lives.
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