Stephanie Ventura, head of the Reproductive Statistics Branch at CDC, commented that, "It’s way too early to know if this is the start of a new trend, but given the long-term progress we’ve witnessed, this change is notable." Additionally, Ventura admits that, “the finding on teen pregnancy was a surprise… Even though the rate of decline had slowed down, we didn't expect an increase. This will be a jolt to groups involved in teen pregnancy prevention.”
The report reveals that between 2005 and 2006, the birth rate for teenagers 15-19 years rose 3%. This follows a 14-year downward trend in which the teen pregnancy rate fell by 34% from its all-time peak in 1991. The report also notes:
- The largest increases were reported for non-Hispanic black teens, whose overall rate rose 5% in 2006
- The birth rate for older teens (18-19 years of age) is now more than three times higher than the rate for teens aged 15-17. In 2006, the birth rate rose 3% for teens aged 15-17 and 4% for teens aged 18-19.
- Childbearing by unmarried women rose substantially in 2006, reaching record high levels (showing a 20% increase from 2002 data). The largest increase, 10%, was among unmarried women 25 to 29.
- The total fertility rate (an estimate of the average number of births that a group of women would have over their lifetimes) increased 2% in 2006: 2,101 births per 1,000 women. This is the highest rate since 1971, and the first time since then that the rate was above replacement (the level at which a given generation can replace itself).
Dr. Douglas Kirby, a leading researcher in adolescent health, released a study confirming (once again) that the federally funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs just DO NOT work. Dr. Kirby investigated both abstinence-only and comprehensive sexual education programs. The only programs that resulted in delayed sexual initiation were comprehensive sex ed programs (those that discuss both abstinence and contraception). The study also clearly states “there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence, or reduces the number of sexual partners.”
It is time for the Bush Administration to take some accountability for its role in this teen pregnancy crisis. As a taxpayer, I feel compelled to question why my money has, literally, been wasted by the 1.5 billion dollar investment that government has spent over the last decade on abstinence-only programs. These programs prohibit any discussion or information about the use of contraception. Obviously, this is NOT the answer. I guess we now have to “thank” George W. Bush (and the Congress members who have voted and supported his failed agenda) for prohibiting government funding that has NOW resulted in not only a 50% higher increase in newly infected HIV cases, but an increase in teen pregnancy as well. Good work George.
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Sources: Teen Pregnancy Photo Courtesy of Geoff Manasse/Getty Images
Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Ventura SJ. (2007). Births: Preliminary data for 2006. National vital statistics reports; vol 56 no 7. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2007.
Kirby, D. (2007). Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Teen Pregnancy Photo Courtesy of Geoff Manasse/Getty Images