Illinois action blog

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Increase in teen birth rate

I can't help but feel a little depressed about the fact that the teen birth rate for 15 to 19 year-olds has risen for the first time in 14 years. According to a federal study released yesterday, teen births for that age group grew by an average of 3%.

For this rise to happen after 14 years means that we as a society are failing young women in a significant way.

According to Carol Hogue, a professor at Emory University the rise in teen birth rates is the same trend as the rise in certain STDs. Pregnant teens aged 15 to 19 account for 440,000 births. That's a Cleveland-sized city's worth of young women with children that will face significant challenges in their lives.

Less than a third of these young women will complete high school, and up to 80% are likely to end up on welfare. The children of these women are more likely to grow up in poverty, and become teen parents themselves. It's a cycle that none of us want the young women we know to get stuck in.

Not incidentally, our country started pouring money into abstinence-only education in 1996. So these 15 to 19 year olds who are now pregnant teens could have received no information about contraception at all from their schools. We've now spent more than $1 billion dollars on abstinence-only programs that deny teens critical information about contraceptives and STDs. Argh.

Wouldn't it be great if our state joined the growing list of states that are now refusing to accept abstinence-only funding?

Technorati tags: teen pregnancy rates, sex education, Planned Parenthood Action Illinois

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