Knocked Up

Teen Pregnancy on the Rise

After a decade of decline, the rate of pregnancy among girls aged 15 to 19 rose 3 percent from 2005 to 2006. The teen abortion rate also rose 1 percent. Teen pregnancy rates among whites are far lower than among blacks and Latinas, but all three groups saw an increase. Some experts argue that the $150 million-a-year federal funding of abstinence-only education can be blamed for the rise, since it leaves teens with less knowledge about contraception. One researcher said there was evidence that teen contraceptive use has plateaued or decreased, but declined to explicitly tie it to abstinence-only policies. But pro-abstinence groups said it would be irresponsible to blame the policy. “The overly sex-saturated culture certainly plays a part, with teen sex communicated almost as an expected rite of passage, without consequences, and that’s a dangerous message for young people, who tend to be risk-takers anyway,” a spokesperson for the National Abstinence Education Association said. The teen-pregnancy rate has declined 41 percent since its peak in 1990.