Wednesday, May 7, 2014, is a benchmark celebration of the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Two decades strong, the day is cause to rejoice in the strides that have been made in lowering the nation’s teen pregnancy rate. Despite the drop in pregnancies, however, the U.S. rate of teen pregnancy remains higher than in other industrialized countries.
In 2010, there were 614,000 documented pregnancies among 15- to 19-year-old women. A recent study by the Guttmacher Institute stated that those numbers indicated a 51 percent decrease from the highest rate in 1990. It is good news that the pregnancy rate is dropping, as that means fewer teens are becoming pregnant. The level of teen pregnancies is at its all-time lowest in thirty years and calculates out to be a drop of about one-third. Abortion rates were also down by 66 percent. Guttmacher provides well-respected data on teen pregnancy and abortion and refers to women between the ages of 15-18 as teenagers. Study author Kathryn Kost feels that giving teens information and contraceptive services that they can easily access is the reason for this success.
New Mexico, Mississippi, Texas and Arkansas are the states with the highest teen pregnancy rates, indicating that progress between states is uneven. Black teenagers are four times more likely to terminate their pregnancies than white teenagers, and Hispanics are twice as likely as whites to terminate.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledge that it is important to offer information to teens that is medically accurate. Findings show that pregnant teens will attend education classes after they have lost their virginity. It seems that young people want to get the message.
Concerned police in Las Vegas hosted a teen pregnancy prevention program this past weekend in honor of the two decades commemorating the national day of recognition, hoping to encourage teenage girls to “Choose Purity.” Skits were presented in which young girls were carried out in body bags. The point was to encourage full abstinence as opposed to promiscuity. The police claim that they see too many teens die from sexually transmitted diseases, or they end up dead because of getting caught up in prostitution. Their stance is that abstinence is the only prevention for pregnancy. Victory Outreach Church of Summerlin co-hosted the event with the Las Vegas Police Department. In opposition to the event was the Progressive Leadership Alliance Of Nevada, which felt that the approach was fear-based rather than fact-based.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also believes that total abstinence should be the option of choice to safeguard against pregnancy and other related health concerns. Teen brains are not yet fully developed and do not think rationally, nor in a mature manner. Parents need to consistently have sex education discussions with their teens and closely monitor the teen’s activities. Teens need to feel comfortable discussing sex with their parents. Contraception is not a replacement for the parent’s responsibility to regularly discuss sex. Doctors can be helpful with conversations about sexual activity.
Last Thursday, at the National Day of Prayer, Janice Hahn became offended when Jame Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, a Christian-based advocacy group, referred to Barack Obama as “the abortion president.” Hahn, a Democrat U.S. Representative for the 44th congressional district of CA, admitted that she was outraged and told Dobson that what he said was inappropriate, and then stormed out of the room. Hahn is also the co-chair for the weekly congressional prayer breakfast. Dobson took a stand and disclosed that he had sent letters to 250,000 people to proclaim that God does not want a deaf ear turned to the cries of innocent babies.
Prevention of teen pregnancy eliminates the need for abortion, unwanted pregnancy, and emotional trauma. Wednesday marks two decades of progress.
By Jill-Boyer Adriance
The Wichita Eagle