Teen Pregnancy and Birth Rates Reached a Record Low, Lowest Rates Since Roe v. Wade

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jun 3, 2016   |   5:59PM   |   Washington, DC

A new fact sheet from a pro-abortion research group breaks down data about significant drops in teen pregnancy and birth rates.

New reports released this spring show an encouraging trend among teens, with pregnancy, birth and abortion rates falling to historic lows in the U.S.

The new report from the Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, shows that abortions among teenagers in 2011 reached the lowest point since 1973 when Roe v. Wade allowed abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Teen pregnancies also hit an all-time low in 2011, according to the report.

The report found that more than half of pregnant teens (60 percent) gave birth to their babies, while a fourth had abortions (26 percent) and the rest had miscarriages. In 2011, teens had about 5 percent of all abortions in the U.S., about 142,600, according to the report.

Teens who had abortions mentioned social and relationship factors most frequently as reasons for their decision. Many said they felt too young to raise a child or they could not afford a baby. Support from a partner and family also often was a key factor in a teen’s decision about her unborn child. Nearly all of the teens were unmarried, and for most it was their first child, according to the data.

Some of the more interesting facts from their report include:

  • The proportion of teens having sexual intercourse before age 15 has declined in recent years. In 2011–2013, about 13% of never-married females aged 15–19 and 18% of never-married males in that age-group had had sex before age 15, compared with 19% and 21%, respectively, in 1995.
  • In 2006–2010, the most common reason that sexually inexperienced teens aged 15–19 gave for not having had sex was that it was “against religion or morals” (41% of females and 31% of males). The second and third most common reasons were “haven’t found the right person yet” and “don’t want to get pregnant/get a female pregnant.”
  • In 2011, the teen pregnancy rate hit a record low of 52 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15–19, indicating that about 5% of females in this age-group became pregnant. This rate represented a decline of more than 50% from the peak rate of 117 per 1,000, which occurred in 1990.[21]
  • In 2011, there were 13.5 abortions for every 1,000 women aged 15–19. This is the lowest rate observed since abortion was legalized in 1973, and 69% lower than the peak rate in 1988 (44.0).[21]
  • Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic women had the highest teen pregnancy rates in 2011 (93 and 74 per 1,000 women aged 15–19, respectively); non-Hispanic white women had the lowest rate (35 per 1,000).[21] These disparities likely reflect wider health disparities that are closely linked with social, economic and/or environmental disadvantage.

While Guttmacher said the decline in abortions was likely due to increased access to contraception, many pro-lifers believe that an increased level of pro-life education and support for moms and babies are causing the decline. Teens today are benefiting from abstinence education programs in schools and resources that show the humanity of the unborn child.

The decline in teen abortions reflects a larger trend across the U.S. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control reported abortions reached their lowest point since Roe v. Wade in 2012.

At their high decades ago, approximately 1 in 3 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 abortion clinics, now one in five pregnancies in the United States end in an abortion.