Roundup: Teen Pregnancies on the Rise, Heads Still in the Sand

It’s the news that very few of us were shocked to hear: teen pregnancy rates rose in 2006, according to the latest from the Guttmacher Institute. But when it comes to addressing the problem, will real progress get made, or are parents, lawmakers and anti-choice interest groups still playing ostrich with their heads in the sand?

Guttmacher, always a fan seeing the bright side of everything, points to a possible "silver lining" from the cloud of news of a 7% of teenage girls getting pregnant in 2006.

The discouraging trends may actually have a modest silver lining.
They may provide those concerned about too-early pregnancy and
childbearing a fresh opportunity to make their case to policymakers,
parents, practitioners, and others.

addition, the extraordinary declines in teen pregnancy and childbearing
over the past two decades have proven to cynics that progress can be
made on tough issues.

So what’s causing the rates to rise?  The proliferation of abstinence only sex ed classes.

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.

"The focus on abstinence and the shifts in pregnancy occurred about the same time," says Guttmacher’s Lawrence Finer.

Of course, with the Obama administration considering restoring $50 million of the $150 million in abstinence only educational funding, the abstinence crew is fighting hard to point fingers to other causes for the first rise in pregnancy since 1990.

"Research unmistakably indicates that delaying sexual initiation rates
and reducing the total number of lifetime partners is more valuable in
protecting the sexual health of young people than simply passing out
condoms," said Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education
Association, who blamed the increase on several factors.

"Contributors include an over-sexualized culture, lack of involved
and positive role models, and the dominant message that teen sex is
expected and without consequences," Huber said. The Obama
administration is launching a $110 million pregnancy prevention
initiative focused on programs with proven effectiveness but has left
open the possibility of funding some innovative approaches that include
encouraging abstinence.

Perhaps new ways of looking at teen sex and its consequences is a good start.  If so, Hollywood is beginning to make moves to showcase the less glamorous side of teen sex, as an episode of "Friday Night Lights" that focuses on abortion recently did.

Of course, regardless of numbers of teens getting pregnant, the right will always come up with the same answer: cut Planned Parenthood’s funding.  In their minds, any penny that Planned Parenthood gets is penny going to abortions, regardless of the designation.

Abortion advocates often argue that the tax money Planned Parenthood
absorbs goes to its educational programs and not to abortions per se.
However, as any business knows, money coming in the door becomes part
of an operating budget. Tax money designated for "education" on a
balance sheet only means that monies from abortions are freed up for
other uses.

Will we ever find the right way to talk to teens and reverse the upward trend in teen pregnancy rates?  Baylor Teen Health Clinic has a good approach, and it’s as easy as ABC.

 “Young people simply do not understand the risks associated with
sexually transmitted infections and HIV,” Smith said. “We talk to them
very candidly not only about pregnancy but also STIs and HIV.”

The teen clinic uses the ABC model, which urges teens to (A) abstain
from sex, but if they choose not to do that to (B) be faithful and (C)
use a condom.

“Abstinence is something that should be strongly considered but when
teens choose not to be, you have to give them a plan B,” Smith said.


Mini Roundup: It’s bad enough if you’re in an abusive relationship.  Now it looks like you need to lock up your birth control, too…


in teenage pregnancy rate spurs new debate on arresting it
Washington Post

pills may reduce a woman’s bone density
Washington Post

passes ultrasound
abortion bill
Louisville Courier-Journal

man killed
doctor without a word: court

Suspect visited slain
abortion doc’s church
Kansas City Star

protests Tebow’s possible anti-
abortion ad
Kansas City Star

rates rise

of Thousands March Against
Abortion in San Francisco
The New American


Affirms Support for

Identified As Killer Of Kansas
Abortion Provider

presents case in
abortion doc’s death
Washington Post


January 25

Night Lights takes on

Thy Name is
Huffington Post

Credit Pro-Life Movement for Stopping Pro-
Abortion Health Care Bill

Abusers Often Sabotage
Birth Control With Partners
Palm Beach Post

turn to new options for
birth control

BCM News

News: CNN, March for Life, Washington Post, Baby Isaiah, Assisted Suicide

Begins for Man Charged With Killing Abortionist
The New American

Ohio Marks 37th Anniversary Of Roe vs. Wade

Court Ruling Sets Up Attack on Precedent for Pro-Abortion Roe Case

Advocates Confront Notre Dame’s Father Jenkins at March for Life

over on Health Bill would be
Pro-Life Victory: Knoxville Bishop

pro-life ad
set for Super Bowl

Off Sex: Can Bristol Palin Stick by Abstinence Pledge?
ABC News

Abusers Often Sabotage Birth Control With Partners
U.S. News & World Report

coercion is a factor in unintended pregnancies
Los Angeles Times

lesson guidance stresses right to say ‘No’

virginity ‘a precious gift’, says Tony Abbott
Herald Sun

Pregnancy Rate on the Rise
PR Newswire

passes 50 million
abortion mark
BP News

urged to scrap Super Bowl ad with Tebow, mom
Washington Post

testifies he saw Kan.
abortion doc’s slaying
Houston Chronicle

Remains Top Obstacle to Health Bill amid Long Silence from Dems

Protest, Counter-Protest Tradition Pushes On Through Rain
The San Francisco Appeal

the ‘Stupak Bomb’ Explode?
The Washington Independent

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

Follow Robin Marty on twitter: @robinmarty

  • liberaldem

    In its coverage of this story the Washington Post (1/26/10) stated that the Senate health care reform legislation includes 50 million dollars for abstinence-based sex education.

    after 8 years of funding myth-based sex education, has the Senate learned nothing?

  • colleen

    Perhaps we’ve been over-focused on contraceptives. Rates of unintended pregnancy might decline if more young women learned to recognize, avoid or leave abusive relationships or were given the skills and support to do so.

    Perhaps we’ve been over-focused on teaching women to cope with an increasing tendency towards violence directed towards women and girls. When over half of the women in this study report "physical or sexual violence from a partner" that would seem to indicate sexual and physical violence is the norm. Perhaps the problem lies with the notion that male violence towards women and girls is so prevalent that it’s become normalized.


    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • timelessreader

    When I hear reports like this, I wonder if any distinction is made between a 19 year old woman and a 15 year old girl. They are both teenagers, but isn’t there a big difference?

    I’m not sure I buy that the Bush administration’s policies have much to do with anything. Anyone agree? 

  • crowepps

    I certainly don’t agree that they had no effect — there were 8 years where students in school were given incomplete or false information and where great efforts were made to proselytize those students to believe outdated stereotypes and myths.  That failure of educational practices will be with us until remedial efforts provide those students with and they understand the truth.


    In addition, there were many poor women who completed pregnancies when they didn’t want to have more children, and those children are still will us.  The amount of damage done to them (and potentially by them) won’t be known for years.

  • crowepps

    The Senators learned that funding mythbased education garners campaign contributions and elicits votes from fundamentalists.  Surely you’re not fooling yourself that they are interested in anything besides money and votes!

  • crowepps

    Read an interesting library book while highlighted some of the most recent scientific studies on how child think and learn, and was totally blown away by one point — if you read to a child or show a video in which brothers and sisters squabble for 80% of the book and then Momma and Poppa teach in the last 4 pages or 5 minutes that getting along is nicer, what the child learns is that brothers and sisters are ‘just naturally’ not supposed to get along with each other (as well as some tips for tormenting each other they might not have thought of themselves).


    The various media do NOT present stories in which those in relationships have adult, mature and reasonable relationships but instead stories which are interesting because they have ‘conflict’.  Perhaps our children are learning that men and women are ‘just naturally’ not supposed to get along with each other either and tips for tormenting each other.

  • harry834

    on parent-child and sibling relations. I’d like to post them on one of my blogs. sound cool?

  • crowepps

    Anything I post on here can be reposted if someone wishes to do so

  • harry834

    the book you were reading on this subject. Kudos to you for challenging the paradigm of "natural" sibling-sibling manipulation.

  • crowepps

    A cursory scan of Amazon did not reveal the title, but I’ll sure look the next time I’m in the library and then pass it on — Good book, had the results of several research studies with results that were counterintuitive — as a grandma I learned a lot!

  • crowepps

    Still have not been able to track down that book but this one was also very good — 

    Why Don’t Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom, Daniel T. Willingham