The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, have released the results of a survey of 2,300 15-19 year old females on their sexual practices and use of birth control. Less than half the girls have engaged in sexual activity.
Of those who are sexually active, 60% are using the most effective methods of birth control – the pill, patches, vaginal rings, IUDs, arm implants and contraceptive shots. Condoms are considered to be only moderately effective. The girls using the best methods have had to involve a physician in their choice. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia allow minors to receive contraceptive services without parental involvement. Four states have no policy at all, and 25 states have varying levels of restrictions on minors receiving contraceptives without parental permission, ranging from health concerns to being a parent to having reached a specific age.
Teen pregnancy has been declining since 1990 and the decline was a point of pride for the Clinton administration which pushed for more sex education and better access to birth control for teens. America’s highest rate of teen pregnancies was reached in 1958.
The findings of the CDC are most welcome. President Clinton said that his goal was to make abortion “safe, available and rare.” The only way to do that is to retain abortion’s legality and push birth control as the best way to prevent abortions. The statistics from Argentina show a clear relationship between cultural resistence to birth control and illegal abortions, which kill and maim girls and women. A half-million illegal abortions were performed in Argentina last year, in spite of a vigorous campaign by the government to increase access to birth control. In Argentina, 1.25% of the population received abortions, compared to only 0.48% of Americans.