Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Study Links High Teen Birth Rates With Conservatively Religious States


This week a study was released that links high teen birth rates to conservatively religious views. Researcher Joseph Strayhorn looked at the relationship on a state level and found that the more conservatively religious a state is, the higher the teen birth rate tends to be. The authors of this article, as well as many other expert researchers in the field, hypothesize that lower levels of contraceptive use in conservatively religious communities is contributing to a higher teen birth rate.

Of the top 10 most religious states listed in the study, seven got an “F” in reproductive rights protections from NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2009. The other three got a “D” or "D+" on their state report card. Hopefully, more studies will examine factors, like religiosity, that may contribute to reproductive rights protections, sex education curricula, and availability of contraceptives and reproductive health services. Policies affecting these issues may contribute to an elevated teen birth rate and are also likely to be influenced by dominating religious views. Although these trends may exist, it is important to provide teenagers with options that are free from ideological influence, such as scientifically supported sex education and access to medically approved contraceptives.

Maryland ranks 36th out of 51 for teen birth rate. While Maryland is better off than over half the country in the teen birth rate, not using contraception raises other health issues for teenagers. Maryland has the high rates of HIV/AIDS and STIs compared to other states. We can battle these poor health outcomes by making contraceptives more affordable and available and by teaching and encouraging teenagers to use them.

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