Friday, February 05, 2010

Guttmacher’s spin on ‘teen pregnancy’

If you count adolescents old enough to vote and enlist, sure the pregnancy rate went up.

Last week, the Alan Guttmacher Institute released a report in which it claimed that the rate of teen pregnancy had increased in 2006. From AGI's point of view, the alarm bells should be sounded since it was obviously caused by abstinence education, which – recently defunded – is currently up again for refunding.

While AGI does provide some of the best numbers available on abortion and related topics, one would do well to carefully evaluate their research since they are the research arm of Planned Parenthood, a group with a very pronounced agenda.

Nevertheless, when I first read about the report, I thought it was true. After all, when you take into account things like teen pregnancy pacts, the aggressive sexual media programming aimed at tweens and teens, how this demographic displays affection not only in public but in every social media available, and the increase in out of wedlock birth, to name a few factors, it seems completely plausible.

Fortunately, things are not as bad as they seem. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation provides a succinct debunking of the study. Significantly, he points out that the study included 18- and 19-year-olds in the group. Technically, yes, they are teens. But for the purpose of public policy in the United States, teens are minors, ages 13-17. In fact, the study found that the pregnancy rates for girls 14 and under actually dropped. As Rector notes, this same group was most directly impacted by abstinence education during the time period covered by the study. However, pregnancy among the adult teens increased dramatically. AGI combined the data to come up with a grabbing headline: “Teen pregnancy increases.” Full story.

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