Over the past several decades, rampant teenage sexual activity has caused a major national problem: an increasing incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, emotional and psychological injuries, and high rates of out-of-wedlock childbearing among America's youth. Abstinence education programs, endorsed by President Bush and many in Congress, have long been advocated as effective in reducing sexual activity and out-of-wedlock childbearing rates among teens, as well as providing an important foundation for personal responsibility and enduring marital commitment.
A new study analyzing the birth and pregnancy rates of single teens, released in April 2003 by the Adolescent and Family Health journal, bolsters support for the advocacy of abstinence for America's youth. According to this study, increased abstinence is the major cause of the declining birth and pregnancy rates among single teenage girls. Most striking among these findings is that among unmarried teenage girls ages 15 to 19 increased abstinence accounted for 67 percent of the decrease in the pregnancy rate. Similarly, a 51 percent drop in the birth rate for single teenage girls ages 15 to 19 is attributed to abstinence.
These findings are significant because they refute the previous--and widely accepted--claims that the decrease in birth and pregnancy rates is due primarily to the increased use and effectiveness of contraception, such as condoms. According to the Adolescent and Family Health study--the most extensive study done to date on the birth and pregnancy rates of single and married teens 15 to 19 years old--67 percent of the decline in pregnancy among single teenage girls is due to a reduction in the proportion of sexually active girls, not to the increased use of contraception.
Read the entire article on the Heritage Foundation website.