Gary Wisenbaker Blog
Gary Wisenbaker
Good News on Teen Births

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), party of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), recently reported that the decline in teenage birth rates continued its decline from 2009 to 2010.  The latest rate is 34.3 births per 1,000 which is roughly half the reported 76 per 1,000 reported in 2002.  This 2002 report itself reflected a dramatic drop from the 1990 rate of 117 per 1,000.

Note the dates: 1990 to 2010.  They’re important.

The NCHS report went on to report that the 1992 -2010 decline “is substantial” and the “widespread significant declines in teen childbearing that began after 1991 have strengthened in recent years.”  It noted that the “impact of strong pregnancy prevention messages directed to teenagers” deserved credit for the lower rate.  In this same paragraph of the report, NCHS went on to distinguish and note that there was also recorded an increase use of contraception.  This leaves one to divine that abstinence was also a part of the strong “messages directed to teenagers.”  The paragraph concluded, however, that the trend of increased use of contraception “may have contributed” to the decline.

USA Today, of course, commented only on the increased use of birth control and the innocuous “may have contributed” in slanting the report as supporting condom and birth control pills giveaways to teenagers.

In June 2010, the CDC reported that the “proportion of high school students who have ever had sexual intercourse declined from 54% in 1991 to 46% in 2009.”  The 1990s witnessed the bulk of the decline as the number of sexually active teenagers dropped 15%.  Interestingly, the rate of decline leveled out and there was no measurable decrease beginning in 2009, the first year of the Obama regime.

But back to those dates, 1990 to 2010. 

You may recall that the federal government began funding abstinence programs back in 1982 with experimental funding under the Adolescent Family Life Act.  It wasn’t until 1996 with the passing of the landmark welfare reform act (thank you Newt and yes, even you, Bill) that funding for these programs exploded.  The idea was to discourage pre-marital sex in general but aimed primarily at teenagers.

The empirical data suggests that it worked.  And it continued to work at least until inauguration day, 2009. 

The cost of out of wedlock childbirth is high. Nationwide the price tag for teen childbearing in 2008 alone was $10.9 billion.  That’s with a “b”.  This came to$1,647 as the average annual cost per taxpayer. This is just the cold Scrooge-like  analysis. 

The real cost is much higher where there are fatherless homes with grandparents raising grandkids and all of them in a cycle of poverty, crime and hopelessness. 

Certainly abstinence based programs alone didn’t do the job.  But their inclusion and giving the idea a seat at the table clearly helped.  Why?  It gave kids an out, a way to say “No”, even as the sex ed teacher handed out the foil packets.  It’s the higher moral ground and we should pursue it.

But what does Obama do?  He undermines the concept, eager to marginalize it, as he did with his 2012 FY budget (which, of course, was resounding defeated even in the Democrat controlled Senate) by cutting funding for abstinence based programs to peanuts.  That budget funded foil packets and The Pill over abstinence by a ratio of 16:1, even as he plunged us deeper and deeper into debt.

And no one here is “forcing any values” on anyone else.  That makes no more sense than forcing a teenage to have sexual intercourse, which would be morally despicable.  Wouldn’t dream of doing that.  Forcing a little common sense could be another matter, however.

After all, as the liberals are fond of saying, “its for the children”. 

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