A report from the Alan Guttmacher Institute has found that the U.S. has the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world though rates are down worldwide. In the U.S,. 14% of girls aged 15-19 gave birth in 1996, twice the rate in Britain, the first-runner up. Of the teen pregnancies in the U.S. 73% were unplanned. Teen pregnancy rates decreased significantly in Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Latin America. In other parts of Latin America, one-third of teens has a child during adolescence while the same holds for at least one in two girls in sub-Saharan Africa. Rates dropped by almost half in the Dominican Republic, Morocco, and Sri Lanka.
The report cited improved educational opportunities for girls as having a strong correlation to the decline in teen pregnancies in developing countries. AGI president Jeannie Rosoff also urged increased access to family planning and reproductive services around the world. “U.S. international population assistance, which has contributed so much to the progress we observed, must continue,” Rosoff said. “Our global future is at stake.” The U.S. House approved a measure that would release international family planning funds in March rather than July, but the measure included a provision which prohibits funding to family planning groups who perform abortions or advocate access to abortion. A Senate vote is expected to follow later this month.
The eight-page AGI report used data from 44 developing countries and five industrialized countries which together comprise nearly 75% of the world’s population. Adolescents are defined as girls aged 10-19.