Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dishonesty in reporting rise in teen pregnancy

The Guttmacher Institute recently released a report raising alarm over a one-year increase in teen pregnancy. “Safe sex” experts quickly pinned the blame on abstinence education.

This is a bit hypocritical according to Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation writing in National Review Online.
In the decade after the federal government began its meager funding of abstinence education, teen pregnancy fell steadily. Safe-sex experts never linked that decline to abstinence education. But when the news went bad, they swiftly identified abstinence programs as the culprit.

But did teen pregnancy actually rise in 2006, as Guttmacher claims? It depends on what you mean by “teen.” For most people, “teen pregnancy” implies pregnancy among high-schoolers, girls under age 18. According to Guttmacher’s own data, the pregnancy rate for 15- to 17-year-old girls barely changed, and the rate for girls 14 and under (the group most affected by abstinence programs) actually dropped.

By contrast according to Rector
the pregnancy and birth rates for young adult women aged 18 and 19 rose sharply. The rise in pregnancies and births in this age range is part of a much larger story: the collapse of marriage and explosive growth of out-of-wedlock births in lower income communities.

Between 1997 and 2007, the percentage of births outside of marriage rose from 32.4 percent to 39.7 percent of all births in the U.S. Very few of these non-marital births occurred to minor girls; most were to less-educated young adult women aged 18 to 26. Since non-married moms are less likely to postpone childbearing than those who patiently wait for marriage, it should be no surprise that the ongoing collapse of marriage in low-income communities would lead to a bump in the birth rate among 18- and 19-year-olds.

Heather Boonstra, Guttmacher Institute senior public policy associate in a blatant attempt to ensure no further funding would be available for abstinence programmes said, "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 (planned parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute) 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.