Teen Birth Rates Fall After Two Year Increase, Abstinence Education Credited

Poll Shows Majority of Americans Say Abstinence Effective, Want Parents Involved

Multiple news reports are trumpeting the fact that teen birth rates fell in 2008 after increasing during the two years prior, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control. Immediately after the reports surfaced, backers of abstinence education have credited their programs as making an impact. The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reported today that the full birth rate fell two percent in 2008.

Some 4,251,095 babies were born in the United States in 2008, down two percent from the 4.317 million the year before. The birth rate for teenagers aged 15-19 fell by 2 percent as well and the CDC says the decline resumes the long-term trend of falling teen birth rates since 1991 — during a time when abstinence education program were gaining favor. And, the decline was most notable (4%) among teens aged 18-19.

Here are some of the responses to the CDC data, reported by LifeNews.com: Valerie Huber, the executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, told LifeNews.com today she is delighted by the news. “So that the positive trend begun a decade ago can continue, we should redouble our efforts to help teens avoid all the consequences of sexual activity, including teen childbearing,” she said.

However, President Barack Obama eliminated all funding for abstinence-centered education in his FY 2011 budget request to Congress. “Today’s announcement provides Congress an opportunity to make a course correction by again placing a priority on the risk avoidance abstinence-centered message,” Huber said.

Huber said her organization is appealing to all groups who genuinely seek the best health outcomes for youth to join in encouraging the avoidance of all sexual risk. “Today’s news shows that teens are able to make good decisions, even in the midst of a sex saturated culture. We must assure that they continue to receive tools for achieving the best sexual health outcomes – in order to escape all the risks of sexual activity,” she said.

Obama’s budget eliminates funding for CBAE (Community Based Abstinence Education) and Title V Abstinence Education Program. In Obama’s FY 2010 Proposed Budget, the president calls for at least $164 million in funding for contraceptive-only education. The money includes competitive grants, research, evaluation and authorization for $50 million in new mandatory condom grants to states, tribes and territories.

That was the second time Obama has called for less abstinence funding. In the omnibus spending bill Obama signed earlier in 2009, abstinence programs received $95 million, a substantial reduction from the $151 million they previously received.

Here are some of my blogs on the topic:

Here are more reports about the effectiveness of abstinence education: