Conservatives may believe that this country is full of wanton teens running around getting knocked up for fun, but they will be pleased to know that is actually not the case, According to new data from the Guttmacher Institute, teen pregnancies are on the downswing. In 2008, the year the most recent data is from, 7 percent of teen girls (ages 15 to 19) in the U.S. were pregnant. That's down from the high of 11 percent in 1990, and it's the lowest rate in nearly 40 years. As for abortions, about 1.8 percent of teens had one in 2008. That is down from more than 4 percent in 1988.
It's great that the numbers are down overall, but there's still a big gap between the rates for white teens and those for black and hispanic teens. According to the report, "the abortion rate among black teenagers was four times the rate for non-Hispanic whites, while the rate among Hispanic teenagers was twice the rate for non-Hispanic white teenagers." As Kathryn Kost, a Guttmacher researcher, explains, "If you think of these rates as lines on a graph, they are all going down, but the distance between them is pretty much unchanged."
While this overall decline is definitely a sign that contraception education and marketing are helping, there are still plenty of problems to address—chief among them are increasing health insurance coverage and reducing the cost of contraception to make it more available to everyone who wants it. But for now, at least there is some proof that we are on the right track (well, one side of the political spectrum is, anyway), and we're not living in a giant episode of Teen Mom.
Image via Stacie Stauff Smith Photography/Shutterstock.