Teen pregnancy and abortion rates are at a record low in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control announced yesterday, citing a combination of factors, including improved access to effective birth control, improved sex education, and abstinence programs. The data disproves anti-choice advocates’ claims that legal abortion, sex education programs, and accessible contraception will increase abortion rates. The teen pregnancy rate feel 19 percent in 1997 from its peak in 1991, reaching the lowest rate since 1976. The abortion rate, also reaching a record low, fell by nearly a third since 1990.
In response to the data, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said he would seek more funding for abstinence education. The statistics, however, suggest that more funding for comprehensive sex education programs, and not abstinence-only or abstinence-focused education, would be more effective. According to NARAL’s Choice Action Kit on comprehensive sex education, no scientifically credible research exists on the effect of abstience-only programs. However, comprehensive sex education programs have “demonstrated positive effects, including increased knowledge, delay in onset of sex, reduced frequency of sex, and increased contraceptive use.”
For more information on sex education, visit these sites:
Teenwire (Planned Parenthood’s site for teens on sexuality)
Advocates for Youth (sex education and information for LGBT youth)
NARAL’s Sex Education Information (information for activists on improving sex education in your community)