Teen pregnancy has become less common mainly because of increased contraceptive use (and, especially, long-acting reversible contraception) but also because somewhat fewer younger teenagers are sexually active. Rates of teen pregnancy vary considerably by ethnicity: The rate is nearly three times higher among Black youth, and more than twice as high among Hispanic youth, than among White youth; the rate among Asian-American adolescents is lowest of all (National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 2015 As rates of teen pregnancy have fallen, so have rates of teen births (Office of Adolescent Health, 2015 The proportion of teen pregnancies that are aborted differs from country to country, from a low of about 20% in Ireland to a high of close to 70% in Sweden (Singh & Darroch, 2000). In the United States, about 25% of all teenage pregnancies are aborted, and slightly more than 15% end in miscarriage (Kost & Henshaw, 2014; Office of Adolescent Health, 2015). Thus, more than half of teenage pregnancies in the United States result in the birth of an infant who will be raised by his or her mother (with or without the help of a partner or other family members). Among American adolescents who carry their pregnancy full term, very few put the baby up for adoption
b. Abortion Several studies indicate that pregnant teenage women who abort their pregnancy are significantly better off, psychologically, socially, and economically, than women who give birth to their child, both in the United States (Zabin, Hirsch, & Emerson, 1989) and abroad (Bailey et al., 2001). Among the most important differences between pregnant adolescents who abort their pregnancy and those who do not is that young women who terminate their pregnancy by abortion are less likely over the next 2 years to experience a subsequent pregnancy and more likely to practice contraception Given the psychological and economic benefits of terminating an unwanted adolescent pregnancy, it is easy to understand why many social scientists have questioned the wisdom of court decisions designed to restrict adolescents’ access to abortion services (Blum, Resnick, & Stark, 1990). While some studies show that laws requiring parental notification or limiting access to legal abortion do, in fact, result in fewer terminated pregnancies among adolescents (Joyce & Mocan, 1990; J. Rogers, Boruch, Stoms, & DeMoya, 1991), not all studies reach the same conclusion (e.g., Henshaw, 1995). An analysis of the parental notification law in Texas found that it was associated with an overall decrease in abortion, but an increase in late-term abortion (Joyce, Kaestner, & Colman, 2006). Policies limiting access to abortion lead to higher rates of unintended childbearing, especially among Black, Hispanic, and poor youth (Coles, Makino, Stanwood, Dozier, & Klein, 2010 c. Causes of Teen Pregnancy Many myths permeate discussions of the causes of adolescent pregnancy and complicate what is actually a fairly simple matter. The most important differences between young women who do and do not become
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