Thursday, January 28, 2010

Study Attributes “Abstinence-Only” Education to Rise in Teen Pregnancy Rates

The Guttmacher Institute released a new study with findings that teen pregnancy in the U.S. has increased. After a decade in decline, the study shows that teen pregnancy rates rose 3% in 2006, which resulted in an increase in teen birth and abortion rates of 4% and 1%, respectively. The Guttmacher study is the latest evidence that our nation is facing an adolescent reproductive health crisis, with one in four teenage girls having a sexually transmitted disease and one-third of teenage girls becoming pregnant before reaching the age of 20. Furthermore, teens of color are disproportionately represented in the increased rates.

If you are curious as to why these rates have increased, you should take a look at the $1.5 billion taxpayer dollars that have been spent on “abstinence-until-marriage” programs in the past decade. It should come as no surprise that the majority of this money was allocated during the Bush administration.

The National Abstinence Education Association, an organization which opposes comprehensive sex education, blames the “overly sex-saturated culture” as a component of teen sexual activity. While sex is certainly prevalent in the U.S. media today, a more effective solution to combating teen pregnancy is to ensure that teens have the accurate information they need to make responsible decisions to help them prevent unintentional pregnancy and avoid sexually transmitted diseases. That starts with providing comprehensive, medically accurate, and age-appropriate sex education. The U.S. can certainly learn something from comprehensive sex education programs in countries like France and Sweden , where the rates of teen pregnancy are four times less than those of the U.S. Teen pregnancy is also two times higher in the U.S. than in Canada and Britain.

Thankfully, the Obama administration has been working to create a new teen-pregnancy initiative that will promote programs shown to decrease pregnancy among teens. Implementing programs that do not censor life-saving information on contraception from young people is a critical step to ensure the health of millions of teens. It is reassuring to see that the current government is more concerned with arming teens with knowledge about their sexual health than pushing an ideologically based agenda.

Visit our website to read more about Maryland’s sex education code.

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