Good news: Teenage pregnancies are in decline, and it’s not because of abortion

By Jonathon Van Maren

The New York Times has published an interesting report on the declining rate of teen pregnancy in the United States titled “Their Mothers Were Teenagers. They Didn’t Want That for Themselves.” It contains some good news. The report notes that the number of high school students who say they have had sex has dropped by 29%–and that this is largely due to teens deciding to delay intercourse. While there are multiple factors at play—including, University of Virginia sociologist Brad Wilcox noted, an increasing amount of time spent in front of screens—abortion is not one of them: 

Abortion does not appear to have driven the decline in teen births. As a share of teenage pregnancy, it has remained steady over the past decade, although the data, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, omits medication abortions, and analysts say the recent Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion, could cause teen births to rise. If adolescent girls are more cautious with sex and birth control, what explains the caution? A common answer is that more feel they have something to lose. “There is just a greater confidence among young women that they have educational and professional opportunities,” Mr. Wilcox said. 

Pro-life statistician Dr. Michael New noted that the report was “surprisingly fair-minded,” especially as it noted that “starting in the late 1980s or early 1990s, there has been a durable reduction in the percentage of teenagers who are sexually active.”  

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One thought on “Good news: Teenage pregnancies are in decline, and it’s not because of abortion

  1. Navi says:

    This is great news. But we should be careful about comparing teen pregnancy statistics, because the « gold standard «  used by the media and most researchers is the teen birth rate (per capita) rather than the actual teen pregnancy rate (births plus abortions). If more teenagers were aborting their children, that could reduce the teen birth rate. That’s not an issue here (as the New York Times article makes it clear that abortions are not becoming more prevalent in this demographic and teen births are down for other reasons). But it is something to keep in mind when we inevitably get alarmism over the teen birth rate going up after the post-Dobbs figures come out.

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