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Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

Teen Pregnancy, Abortion Rates Rise

A new report demonstrates a slight increase in teen pregnancy, and abortions, as well as a modest increase in teen live births during 2006. What strikes me most in this report is that two-thirds of teen pregnancies were in ages 18-19. To me, it would seem responsible for parents and educators to place more focus on preventative efforts on this demographic -- where most teen pregnancies occur -- to the young college-age person.

The teen pregnancy rate in the USA rose 3% in 2006, the first increase in more than a decade, according to data out today. The data also show higher rates of births and abortions among girls 15-19.

The numbers, calculated by the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit group that studies reproductive and sexual health, show a clear reversal from the downward trend that began in the 1990s.

About 7% of teen girls got pregnant in 2006, a rate of 71.5 pregnancies per 1,000 teens. That's up slightly from 69.5 in 2005, Guttmacher says. In 1990, when rates peaked, about 12% got pregnant.

Guttmacher and others suggest the increase is related to a focus on abstinence-only sex education programs under the Bush administration.

Funding for abstinence doubled from 2000 to 2003, to $120 million. By 2008, funding was at $176 million. Guttmacher is an outspoken opponent of abstinence-only education.

Those on the other side cry foul. "To me, it appears to be another opportunity to throw a barb at abstinence education," says Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association. She says that only a quarter of federal funding for teen sexuality programs went to abstinence in 2008.

In 2006, two-thirds of all teen pregnancies were to ages 18-19; data do not reflect marital status.

Guttmacher's analysis shows a 4% increase in the teen birth rate and a 1% rise in abortion rates, based on federal statistics and Guttmacher's abortion research. The National Center for Health Statistics will release its pregnancy rate data later this year.

Source: USA Today