A new study shows American teen pregnancy and abortion rates are escalating – and while abortion advocates fault supporters of abstinence, one group is placing blame for the pregnancy boom squarely with Planned Parenthood-style sex education.
A study released today by the Guttmacher Institute, formerly a division of Planned Parenthood, shows teenage pregnancy increased by 3 percent in 2006 as 750,000 women younger than 20 – or 7 percent of America’s teen girls – became pregnant. This trend follows a decade of declining pregnancies among teenagers.
Also in 2006, there were 42 births for every 1,000 teenage girls – 4 percent higher than 2005. Abortions increased by 1 percent from 2005 to 2006.
What caused the boom?
Planned Parenthood claims the culprit is abstinence-only sex education programs.
“This new study makes it crystal clear that abstinence-only sex education for teenagers does not work, and it should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who still believes that teenagers aren’t sexually active or that abstinence-only programs curb the rate of teen pregnancy,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said in a statement. “We applaud President Obama and members of Congress who have recognized that abstinence-only programs do not work, and who are investing in medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education for our teenagers.”
Heather Boonstra, Guttmacher Institute senior public policy associate, added, “After more than a decade of progress, this reversal is deeply troubling. It coincides with an increase in rigid abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which received major funding boosts under the Bush administration. A strong body of research shows that these programs do not work.”
However, the American Life League says that while the abortion provider seeks to portray the unsettling statistics as an indictment against the Bush administration’s abstinence policy, the timeline points to a different culprit – Planned Parenthood.
“This is not rocket science,” American Life League Vice President Jim Sedlak said. “When you don’t tell kids to remain abstinent, they have more sex and more of them get pregnant. Pregnancy rates go down when kids don’t have sex.”
American Life League pointed to the following trends as evidence that Planned Parenthood’s sex-ed programs are to blame:
- Prior to 1990, teen pregnancy rates were increasing just about every year as Planned Parenthood’s sex-ed programs dominated public and even private school sex-education courses.
- In the early 1990s, it became popular to teach the abstinence message to teens and preteens. Teen pregnancy rates began to fall. The Guttmacher Institute claims the decline was the result of more use of contraceptives among sexually active teens.
- By 1995, the federal government was funding an abstinence-only message while pregnancy rates continued to fall.
- By 2000, Planned Parenthood began lobbying the various states to refuse abstinence money and reduce abstinence programs and, predictably, in 2006, the teen pregnancy rate increased for the first time in 15 years.
- Today, partnering with President Obama, Planned Parenthood lobbying has succeeded in virtually cutting off abstinence-only funds.
State-level data are not yet available for 2006, but varied widely in 2005, according to the Guttmacher Institute report. The highest pregnancy rates were in New Mexico (93 per 1,000 women, ages 15 to 19), Nevada (90), Arizona (89), Texas (88) and Mississippi (85). The lowest rates were in New Hampshire (33), Vermont (40), Maine (48), Minnesota (47) and North Dakota (46).
In its 2008 study, the American Journal of Health Behavior reported that adolescent students who received abstinence education were one-half as likely as non-participants to initiate sexual activity after one year.
Additionally, a 2007 Zogby poll revealed more than twice as many parents said they preferred abstinence education to comprehensive sex education, once they learned facts about the two approaches.
However, the Obama administration slashed funding for abstinence education in its 2010 budget.
“We can only imagine how high the teen pregnancy rates will go,” Sedlak said. “Planned Parenthood’s reach extends far beyond their vice grip on the nation’s classrooms. Their work can also be felt in pop culture, the internet, advertising and television – all excellent vehicles in their long-term goal to sexualize our children. Sadly it’s working.”