Who’s winning the culture wars? Judging from this Guttmacher Institute report, both sides can claim some victories. The study shows teen pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates have continued to drop significantly since their peaks in the 1990s:
In 2010, some 614,000 pregnancies occurred among teenage women aged 15–19, for a rate of 57.4 pregnancies per 1,000 women that age. This marks a 51% decline from the 1990 peak, and a 15% decline in just two years, from 67.8 in 2008, according to “U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2010: National and State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity,” a new study by the Guttmacher Institute. Similarly, the teen birthrate declined 44% from the peak in 1991 (from 61.8 births per 1,000 to 34.4 per 1,000); and the teen abortion rate declined 66% between its 1988 peak and 2010 (from 43.5 abortions per 1,000 to 14.7 per 1,000).
These findings are great news, and people of every political persuasion will be looking for ways to show that these results are the handiwork of their preferred policy options. The left will argue that the drop in teen pregnancy is due to more widespread use of contraception and access to sex education programs. The right will take the decline in teen abortion rates as a sign that the cultural consensus will slowly turn against abortion. (If fewer people are getting abortions, the public might find it easier to justify limits on the practice.)But whatever their politics, everyone can be glad that more young women in America seem to be making better choices.