CWLA 2005 Children's Legislative Agenda
Teen Pregnancy Prevention
- Increase funding for the Title X family planning program. Maintain Title X as a categorical federal program that mandates informed patient consent, confidentiality protection for all patients, types of services offered, and medical standards.
- Support funding for comprehensive, accurate sexuality health education, including abstinence education, in our communities and schools.
Young people are a valuable untapped resource in our society. They have the ability and desire to make significant contributions to their families, schools, and communities. They require an array of services, supports, and opportunities to promote their healthy and positive development. Unfortunately, for many youth whose lives are marginalized by poverty and social injustice, the future is bleak and uncertain. Many of these disconnected youth face significant challenges as they navigate their journey toward productive adulthood.
To maximize their options in life, these young people must have opportunities to develop the skills necessary to achieve economic independence, self-sufficiency, and long-term family stability. Adolescent reproductive health is a critical issue affecting the well-being of young people in the United States. Teen pregnancy and birthrates have declined nationwide in all states and among all age, racial, and ethnic groups. Yet, the United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and births in the western industrialized world. We must guard against believing the problem has been solved.
Reducing the nation's teen pregnancy rate is one of the most strategic and direct means available to improve overall child well-being and reduce persistent child poverty. Teen pregnancy is closely linked to a host of other critical social issues--welfare dependency, out-of-wedlock births, responsible fatherhood, and workforce development in particular. Preventing teen pregnancy is not only a reproductive health issue but also one that can improve all of these measures.
The Title X family planning program provides resources for critical health services. More than 4,500 clinics serve millions of young women who receive contraceptive services, supplies, and other preventive health services, including screening for breast and cervical cancers, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and screening for anemia, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Title X family planning programs received funding of $285.8 million in FY 2005, an increase of $7.6 million.
Congress must ensure that all federally funded pregnancy prevention programs, including abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, are accurate and do not contain false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health. The content of abstinence-only programs must be fully reviewed to ensure all curricula are accurate.
- Youth in foster care in the United States are 7.2 months younger than their peers when they first consent to sexual intercourse; youth in kinship care are 12 months younger than their peers when they first consent to sexual intercourse; youth in both foster and kinship care are associated with first conception at a younger age, by 11.3 months, compared with their peers. 1
- The United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and births in the western industrialized world. Teen pregnancy costs the United States at least $7 billion annually. 2
- The teen birthrate declined slowly but steadily from 1991 to 2002, with an overall decline of 30% for those ages 15-19. 3
- Thirty-five percent of young women become pregnant at least once before age 20--about 850,000 a year. Eight in ten of these pregnancies are unintended; 79% are to unmarried teens. 4
- The younger a teenage girl is when she has sex for the first time, the more likely she is to have had unwanted or nonvoluntary sex. Nearly four in ten girls who had first intercourse at 13 or 14 report it was either nonvoluntary or unwanted. 5
- Carpenter, C.; Clyman, B.; Davidson, A.; & Steiner, J. (2001). The Association of Foster Care or Kinship Care with Adolescent Sexual Behavior and First Pregnancy. Pediatrics 108, e46.
- National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. (1997). Whatever Happened to Childhood? The Problem of Teen Pregnancy in the United States. Washington, DC: Author.
- Martin, J.A.; Hamilton, B.E.; Sutton, P.D.; Ventura S.J.; Mnacker, F.; & Munson, M.L. (2003). Births: Final data for 2002. National Vital Statistics Reports 52 (10).
- National Campaign Analysis of Henshaw, S.K. (2003). U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Statistics with Comparative Statistics for Women Aged 20-24. New York: The Alan Guttmacher Institute.
Ventura, S.J.; Martin, J.A.; Curtin, S.C.; Menacker, F.; & Hamilton, B.E. (2001). Births: Final Data for 1999. National Vital Statistics Reports 49 (1).
- Moore, K.A., & Driscoll, A. (1997). Partners, Predators, Peers, Protectors: Males and Teen Pregnancy. In Not Just for Girls: The Roles of Boys and Men in Teen Pregnancy (pp. 5-10). Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
Back to Top Printer-friendly Page Contact Us