Teenage girls in the United States are 2.5 times more likely to give birth than girls in Canada. They are four times as likely as girls in Germany or Norway, and they are almost ten times more likely to give birth than teens in Switzerland. A teenage girl in Mississippi is four times more likely to give birth than a teenage girl in New Hampshire, and they are 15 times more likely to give birth as a teen when compared to a teenage girl in Switzerland.
The fact is, teenage girls in the United States are far more likely to give birth than girls in any other industrialized country in the world. And girls who live in rural counties are significantly more likely to give birth than girls in urban counties.
The reasons for these statistically likelihoods are very deep-seated – everything from socioeconomic class, family history, and education all definitely play roles. But in some counties, it’s also clear that access to healthcare has played an integral role.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked an unprecedented decline in the teen birth rate nationally. In 2017, the nation now sits at 22.3 births per 1,000 women, ages 15 to 19, in 2015, which was a great decline from 41.5 births in 2007.
It doesn’t exactly seem like a coincidence that the Affordable Care Act, which provided insurance coverage for millions of women nationwide as well as mandating coverage for contraception, was enacted during this time period.
So it’s definitely frightening that Congress seems to be getting closer and closer to repealing the ACA and defunding Planned Parenthood, which provides free or low-cost family planning resources. They say their agenda is to ease government spending and lower taxes for Americans, but it seems like they aren’t really looking at the big picture as to how those numbers play into teen pregnancy.
“In 2010, teen pregnancy and childbirth accounted for at least $9.4 billion in costs to U.S. taxpayers for increased health care and foster care, increased incarceration rates among children of teen parents, and lost tax revenue because of lower educational attainment and income among teen mothers,” the CDC publishes on its website (until Trump deletes it).
The website also states that, “Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age, whereas approximately 90% of women who do not give birth during adolescence graduate from high school.” This results in a huge loss in human capitol in the United States, and it leads these at-risk families to develop a greater dependence on federal aid.
So doesn’t it seem like it would make more sense in the long run to keep the current systems, which have helped to make great strides in these issues? If anything, it would make more sense to continue adding to the existing programs, especially in the sexual education aspects of high schools.
Many people in the health education community believe that these additions would continue to aid the United States in catching up with the rest of the developed world in regards to teen pregnancy rates. It seems like only time will tell whether the current administration chooses to rely on scientific research or their own misguided beliefs to steer the future of the country.