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Massachusetts Teen “Pregnancy Pact” Partially A Result of Inadequate Sex-Education

Some local officials have cited the lack of comprehensive sex education in Gloucester as partially responsible for the increased pregnancy rate at Gloucester High School. The high school gained national attention when Time reported on June 18 that 17 girls formed a pact to get pregnant together.

Today the Boston Herald reports that the “pact” may have been an exaggeration. The school committee chairman, Greg Verga, suggested that it is more likely that the students became pregnant unintentionally and decided to “stick together” at that point.

Time reports that the lack of comprehensive sex education and access to contraceptives may be responsible. In May, the director of the Gloucester High student Clinic, Dr. Orr, and Nurse Practioner Kim Daly, suggested that the clinic distribute birth control without requiring parental consent. The City Mayor denounced the practice, and both Dr. Orr and Practioner Daly resigned in protest.

The Gloucester Times reports that $25 Million was cut from the department that funds comprehensive sex-education in 2003. Additionally, federal funding can only be spent on abstinence-only “education.” The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported in June that condom use among teenagers had declined. In 207, the CDC reported that for the first time in 14 years, teen pregnancy rates had risen. While neither study finds a definitive cause, both the increase in teen pregnancy and the decline of teen condom use are concurrent with the increase in abstinence-only “education.”

Sources:

Gloucester Times 6/10/08; Time Magazine 6/18/08; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/6/2008, US News 12/5/2007, Boston Herald 6/23/2008