Those abstinence-only programs are really bringing down the teen pregnancy rate . . . or are they?

February 15, 2007 | By | 4 Replies More

Teen pregnancy is down. Is it because of those abstinence pledges?  As indicated in this article from the BBC News,  “88% of those who make the pledge break the pledge, so it must be down to condoms and safe sex education.”

The Guttmacher Institute recently released its own survey showing that most of the decline in U.S. teen pregnancy rates is the result of the teens using birth control, not abstinence:

Eighty-six percent of the recent decline in U.S. teen pregnancy rates is the result of improved contraceptive use, while a small proportion of the decline (14%) can be attributed to teens waiting longer to start having sex, according to “Explaining Recent Declines in Adolescent Pregnancy in the United States: The Contribution of Abstinence and Improved Contraceptive Use” by John Santelli et al., published in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health. This study raises serious questions about the value of the federal government’s funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that prohibit information about the benefits of condoms and contraception.

There is a wealth of information regarding reproductive health available at the Guttmacher Institute site.   I will visit the site regularly to stay updated.  Here is the Institute’s Mission Statement. 

The Guttmacher Institute advances sexual and reproductive health through an interrelated program of social science research, policy analysis and public education, designed to generate new ideas, encourage enlightened public debate, promote sound policy and program development, and, ultimately, inform individual decision-making.

The Institute envisions a world in which all women and men have the ability to exercise their rights and responsibilities regarding sexual behavior, reproduction and family formation, freely and with dignity. Essential to this vision are societal respect for and protection of personal decision-making with regard to unwanted pregnancies and births, as well as public and private-sector policies that support individuals and couples in their efforts to become responsible and supportive parents, maintain stable family structures and balance parenting with other roles. Equally vital to the Institute’s vision are the eradication of gender inequality worldwide and the attainment of equal status, rights and responsibilities for women.


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Category: Health, Religion, Reproductive Rights, Sex

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. Mr. Smug says:

    It turns out that the "friendly atheist" sold his soul on Ebay, for $506. Now he is semi-famous. Talk about easy money…

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    The federal government spends $176 million annually on such programs. But a landmark study recently failed to demonstrate that they have any effect on delaying sexual activity among teenagers, and some studies suggest that they may actually increase pregnancy rates.

    “Spending tens of million of tax dollars each year on programs that hurt our children is bad medicine and bad public policy,” said Dr. David A. Grimes, vice president of Family Health International, a nonprofit reproductive health organization based in North Carolina.

    For the full article, see the NYT.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.

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