A new report shows an encouraging trend among teens in the U.S.
The Pew Research Center reports both the teen birth and teen abortion rates have been falling sharply across the past few decades. The report analyzed newly released data from the National Center for Health Statistics, which collected numbers for teens ages 15 to 19.
The teen birth rate is the lowest it has been since the government began collecting data in the 1940s, according to the report. In 2014, there were 25 teen births for every 1,000 female teens. Teen abortion rates are dropping steadily, too. In 1990, there were 40.3 abortions for every 1,000 teen girls, but by 2009 the rate fell to just 16.3 abortions per 1,000, according to NCHS.
“Of the roughly 700,000 pregnancies among teens in 2009, about 58% are estimated to have ended in live births, 25% in abortions and 17% in miscarriages or stillbirths,” according to the report.
The analysis does note, however, that more sexually active teens are using emergency contraception, such as the morning after pill, which some believe may cause an abortion. The rate of emergency contraception use rose from 8 percent in 2002 to 22 percent in 2011-2013, according to the report.
While the report notes that more teens are using contraception, it says fewer teens also are having sex. In 1988, 51 percent of unmarried teen girls said they had sex, compared to 44 percent in 2011-2013, according to the National Survey of Family Growth.
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Researchers attributed the decline to more sex education and even TV programs like MTV’s “16 and Pregnant.” A 2014 Brookings report linked the reality show to a decline in teen births.
The report reflects a larger abortion trend in America. In November, the Centers for Disease Control reported abortions had reached a historic low in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade.
Although approximately 699,000 babies lost their lives in abortions in 2012, the latest year CDC has produced figures for, that represents a decline of about half since the highs of more than 1.5 million in the late 1980s. That is a decline from the 730,322 babies who died from abortions in 2011, according to the 2014 CDC report.
At their high decades ago, approximately one in three pregnancies ended in an abortion — resulting in brochures, banners and billboards proclaiming that fact and greying out every third baby displayed in pictures of newborn children. Thanks to pro-life laws, educational efforts, pregnancy centers and the actions of pro-life groups that have resulted in closing down abortion clinics, now one in five pregnancies in the United States end in an abortion.