According to a new Guttmacher Institute report, teen pregnancy rates and abortions have increased for the first time in over a decade. Data for 2006 shows a 3% increase in teen pregnancy from 2005, with 71.5 pregnancies for every 1,000 women under 20 years old. The abortion rate in 2006 increased by 1%. Guttmacher notes that the increase coincided with the Bush Administration’s increased reliance on abstinence only education programs.
The Washington Post writes:
“The report comes as Congress might consider restoring federal funding to sex-education programs that focus on abstinence. The Obama administration eliminated more than $150 million in funds for such groups, but the Senate’s health-care reform legislation would reinstate $50 million.”
The Guttmacher report was released just days after Lifetime television aired their latest movie, “The Pregnancy Pact,” which is loosely based on the 17 teenage girls from Gloucester, Massachusetts who became pregnant in 2008. The movie offered some compelling insights. In one scene a parent (a strong advocator for family values) announces that the school needs to raise an extra $13,000 for one extra spot at the student daycare center. A reporter following the story at the time raises her hand in the meeting, and questions the logic of spending the $13,000 versus handing out condoms that cost $1. Lifetime does a good job in discussing the issue and even offers discussion guides, which parents and teens can download off of its website in order to continue the conversation.
It is clear that members of our government need to take a stronger stance in advocating for comprehensive sex education and access to contraceptives in schools, a topic that Lifetime was not afraid to address.
Posted by Emily Pontarelli, Program Associate