RMC Responds: U.S. Teen Pregnancy Rate Lowest in DecadesPosted: September 13, 2013
This week we were excited to see the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on teen pregnancy rates in the United States. According to the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC, the birth rate among women ages 15 to 19 fell 6 percent from 2011 to 2012, to 29.4 births per thousand women, largely due to increased use of contraceptives.
In response to this great news many of you commented, “Common sense 101,” excellent news” and “finally some common sense!”
We certainly agree. This report shows that when young women have access to abstinence plus comprehensive sex education and contraceptives, they will make smart, responsible choices for themselves. This decline in teen pregnancies crossed all racial and ethnic groups and is the lowest rate in the 73 years that the government has been collecting such data. Absent similar drops in rates of sexual activity or abortion among teens, what this drastic decline shows is an increased use of effective contraceptive methods like the birth control pill and Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives like IUDs or implants.
The rate of teen pregnancy in the U.S. has been on a decline since 1991, but these drops have strengthened in recent years. Data from the CDC has shown increased use of contraception from the first initiation of sex, and use of dual methods of contraception (such as condoms as well as hormonal prescription methods) among teens. These trends contribute to the teen pregnancy and teen birth rate declines. Increasing access to contraception is the number one best method to decrease rates of unintended and teen pregnancy. Recent reports show that for every dollar invested in giving low-income women and families access to contraception saved nearly 6 dollars. These fiscally conservative policy solutions have benefits for all Americans.
Investing in targeted preventive health policy strengthens all American families. Nearly one-third of teen girls who have dropped out of high school cite early pregnancy or parenthood as a key reason. And according to the Alliance for Excellent Education, it is estimated that over the course of his or her lifetime, a single high school drop out costs the nation approximately $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes and productivity. But teen pregnancy, as these recent numbers show, is a serious problem with a ready solution. Investing in abstinence plus comprehensive sex education – that extolls the benefits of abstinence while giving teens facts about prevention – is the kind of commonsense social policy that reflects the Republican ideals of fiscal restraint and individual liberty. And giving young men and women the tools they need to take personal responsibility for their decisions and for their families is something all Americans can get behind.