Here Are All The Reasons Why Texas Teenagers Can't Seem to Stop Getting Pregnant

Vagina demagogues.jpg
Congratulations, Texas! After a lot of hard work and many long nights, we're number one in the nation for repeat teen births. According to the Centers for Disease Control, which released a new report on April 2, in 2010, 22 percent of Texas teenagers aged 15-19 who gave birth were delivering their second (or third, or fourth) child. We even beat Mississippi, which came in second, and way outpaced those underachievers in New Hampshire, which has the lowest rate of repeat teen birth in the nation (less than 10 percent of their delivering teens had already given birth before).

So, who and what do we have to thank for this stunning achievement? Let's just list 'em off.

Abstinence-only sex education: A little background: States with abstinence-only sex education policies have long been found to have the highest rates of teen pregnancy. According to the CDC, only 29 percent of Texas schools teach "four key topics related to condom use." A 2009 report from the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) found that most school districts in Texas teach some form of abstinence-only education. Those districts, and even some that teach "abstinence-plus" sex ed, are guilty of "downplaying the effectiveness of condoms in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases," the report said.

One of the state's health textbooks, Essentials of Health and Wellness, mentions the word "condom" once, according to the TFN report. The other three approved health textbooks never use that word at all. And if they're not discussing condoms, you better believe most Texas school districts aren't discussing birth control pills, IUDs, or any other pregnancy prevention method besides "cross your legs and think of your eternal salvation."

That might help explain why Texas ranks third in the nation for pregnant teenagers. But what does it have to do with repeat births? Over at D Magazine's essential Frontburner blog, publisher Wick Allison opines: "This is a case where the argument over abstinence-only vs. sex education does not apply. These young ladies know the consequences of their actions. So we are in entirely different territory."

In fact, the research indicates that a lack of appropriate sex ed has everything to do with both first-time teen pregnancy and its sequels (your own publication, D Healthcare, agrees with us there.) The CDC found that only one in five teen mothers used the most effective forms of birth control after giving birth. The solution? Among other things, the organization recommends better education for teen mothers about effective birth control methods, since apparently nobody bothered to give them that that information the first time around.

There is a bit of good news on the education front, though: A follow-up report from TFN in 2011 found that an increasing number of school districts are choosing abstinence-plus programs that include "basic information about contraception." It's still only a quarter of school districts in state at the most, but that's still undeniable progress.

Poverty: The South as a whole has a high rate of poverty, a low rate of "educational attainment," and a lot of teen pregnancy and repeat teen pregnancy. That's not a coincidence. In 2006, the Guttmacher Institute found that the unintended pregnancy rate for women below the federal poverty line was five times higher than the pregnancy rate for women earning 200 percent or more over the poverty line. All this is especially true for black, Latina and American Indian women, who have higher rates of poverty, and who are 1.5 times more likely than white women to have a repeat birth. And teen mothers are much more likely to stay poor.

A lack of affordable, easily-accessible birth control: Texas has shitty health care for poor people. We know this. We lead the nation in uninsured people , something that's unlikely to change anytime soon, because Rick Perry absolutely hates Medicaid. And Texas has made extra-sure that affordable family planning methods are off the table for those poor people, cutting $73 million from the state family planning budget last session and gutting the Women's Health Program by cutting out Planned Parenthood, its largest provider.

That same D Healthcare story points to a study from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. It found that fewer than one in four teen mothers used the most effective birth control methods to try to prevent another pregnancy: tubal ligation, vasectomy, implant or an IUD. And nearly 10 percent of sexually active teen mothers didn't use contraceptives at all. Their mostly frequently cited reasons were "partner disapproval or inability to afford contraceptives." Helping women get access to things like IUDs and doctors to put them in might be helpful there, no?

A lack of child care and other support services in Texas schools: Only about 38 percent of teen mothers nationwide get a high school diploma. One Voice Texas, a coalition of health and human services agencies across the state, says a lack of childcare is "a major obstacle to school completion." Texas school districts can get funding for "pregnancy-related services," but those services end just after a student gives birth -- right when they need support to stay in school the most.

One Voice suggest extending those services until a teen parent finishes school. They also want better counseling, support, education and transportation assistance for both male and female students who have had children. "Participation in these programs significantly increases the likelihood of graduation and significantly reduces the incidence of repeat pregnancies."

So basically, our teenagers keep getting pregnant because things are a mess here. And with your state representatives doing their damndest to keep sex education out of Texas classrooms, they're likely to stay that way. Let's all look forward to accepting the Knocked Up Teens Award again next year. Start drafting your acceptance speeches now.

My Voice Nation Help
70 comments
jackshittz
jackshittz

I like to knock up teens, I'm past 100 now, teens are hot and stupid, nothing beats a tight stupid teen !

roadsidecouch
roadsidecouch

Every girl knows you have to pump out the babies in order to pump up the welfare check.  If your girl coming from Mexico what else are you going to do?  Find someone to spend money on you and knock you up and then pimp the baby for all the welfare you can get.  That is the American dream for a lot of people.

bbetzen
bbetzen

Teenage pregnancies are highly correlated with teenagers who rarely hear from their parents of their parent's dreams for them. Goals and life plans are rare, and rarely spoken about. Too often students are puzzled by school and do not understand the life goals made possible with education. They are bored. And yes, they have a terrible education about sex, usually received from peer group sources. Put it all together and we have more teenage pregnancies. How do you lower the pregnancy rate?

Start a pattern of parents writing letters to their child about their dreams for them, starting in the 6th grade and continuing in the 8th, 9th and 12th grades. At each time have students respond to their parents by writing letters to themselves about their plans for the future. With such a focus on goals and the future, pregnancy rates will go down. Sex ed must be a part of this process for it to work.   See more details at http://www.studentmotivation.org.

sherilenoir
sherilenoir

To adopt a child you must invest a lot of money, time, subject yourself to tests, classes and intense scrutiny in order to make sure you can afford, support, and nurture a child through to adulthood. Many are turned away, and even after, the children can be taken away by birth parents. The government is in your business and home for years. It is very expensive to the couple adopting.

To get knocked up when you are 13 takes a little sex.

The rewards for getting knocked up young are- government help, money, a place to live and an excuse to not do a lot of things like get a job or education. It's expensive to the state, and name your study- odds say the kid will struggle, suffer and never raise above circumstance. Paying for their education, their social mistakes and medical is also expensive to the state. It takes a whole lot of neglect, multiple reports, arrests, and filings to get these kids taken away. This is also expensive to the state.

-the rewards for 'doing it' are far too high to discourage any child

I wish adoption was a little easier.

I wish father's rights allowed men to opt out of paying child support for one night stands and accidental kids.

I wish children had to be earned - and teen mothers had to take the same classes and prerequisites that adoptive parents had to have. Had to pass them all, and be off state support in order to get custody of their child.

There are a lot of things you can't do when you are underage, having a child does NOT make that girl an automatic adult, they should still be treated as children.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Yeah, I'm sure that "sex feels fantastic" is totally not one of "all the reasons".

motherjoans
motherjoans

jccovici

What a great website, and what a great article by Anna Merian above.  Thank goodness my great birth state of NH is setting an example of healthy, compassionate, and INTELLIGENT legislation and USE of taxpayer money for its citizens. And NH is not known as being a bleeding heart liberal state, but we take care of our citizens -- even the most poor among us -- while letting good common sense prevail. Typical of the northeastern states -- we believe in sound academic education over "faith based" propaganda.

motherjoans
motherjoans

What a great website, and what a great article by Anna Merian above.  Thank goodness my great birth state of NH is setting an example of healthy, compassionate, and INTELLIGENT legislation and USE of taxpayer money for its citizens. And NH is not known as being a bleeding heart liberal state, but we take care of our citizens -- even the most poor among us -- while letting good common sense prevail. Typical of the northeastern states -- we believe in sound academic education over "faith based" propaganda.

rbtxcat75
rbtxcat75

Just fact checking here, how long has PP been on the books here in Texas?  You write about how women are "losing" access to healthcare, education, birth control from PP.  This study is based on the stats prior to the state of Texas pulling PP out of the equation correct?  I will be the first to agree that Texas is terrible at education and that education is the #1 priority to fix what is going on.  We can play dumb on this one (folks on both side of the issue).  And for being the largest state in the lower 48, that is just plain sad.  But to show PP in the "rainbow and unicorns" scenario that you tend to do is ridiculous.  Asking taxpayers to continue to pay for a broken system is not right.  Let's fix our mindset, stop killing kids because it's convenient or the "only way", stop the holy than thou in Austin and do what is right for all people (fully grown adults, kids and those waiting to be born).

russell.allison1
russell.allison1

I didn't see this referenced anywhere but it's probably significant:  a majority (75% according to one study) of teen mothers come from single parent homes (i.e. absent father).  I think that one element of this and other social ills that is understudied is the role of a father in the lives of children.  Well over 80% of those in TDCJ are from single parent homes, women raised in homes without a father figure are more prone to multiple divorces.  I know there are many factors but for a kid to have a father (even a divorced one who visits and takes part in that kids life) would seem to go a long way to a better outcome, regardless of economic status.  I know it's a chic thing to bash men in, but there is a lot of wreckage in  rearview mirror that might suggest that that's not the best plan. 

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

Some people refer to it as the stolen generation, but perhaps taking children away from breeders that have no way in supporting the child, just might stop the terrible merry go round. Even 15 year old girls are calculating enough to think, if I sleep with him, we will be a family and be together...maybe if you sleep with him, have a baby with him and neither of you can keep the child becuase you cannot afford it....just might stop the stupid merry go round, you still may sleep with im, but will most likely take that next step on your own...when there is no reward for baby with man and baby gets me money, I guarantee it will slow the underage pregnancies by more than half.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

This is a no doubter 5/5 Vaginas.  In the comments we've got racism, sexism, the religious kooks, trolls and Anna being called a piece of shit, by an "apparently" religious person. and I haven't even got to the actual story where we get our obligatory shot at Perry and the school systems sex ed teachings.  Nice work Anna

russp
russp

Where is complete lack of parental responsibility on this list? How many of these girls were taught by example?

aboriginee
aboriginee

Dear Anna,

You're deliberately perpetuating a falsehood by suggesting that Planned Parenthood has an actual interest in anything other than collecting hundreds of dollars for every life that it cuts violently short. You are a contemptibly misguided piece of human excrement in my estimation. Good luck appealing to your target audience with your milquetoast diatribe. The young ladies who are directly responsible for the statistics you bemoan are too busy getting filled out like WIC applications to care about your (disingenuous) indignation for their (self-inflicted) plight. F*** you in the status quo.

Mockingly,

BG

Blake Wilson
Blake Wilson

The ONLY reason we're #1 is poverty. None of the other "reasons" you listed can actually be correlated to teen pregnancy other than poverty. Kids in HP aren't popping out babies in their teens, while those in the usual ZIP codes are stealing the show. Nice try, but bullllllllshit. Let me guess, they interviewed each proud teen mom and asked them what type of sex education they received (the study wasn't a survey, uh oh!), how their access to child care (really?) and birth control. How naive or blatantly biased of you to continue this act. We all know why this is happening. So go the demographics, so goes the state.

chill215
chill215

I don't know why Texas is number one in repeat teen pregnancy, but I'm sure that it has something to do with these teens having help from parents or relatives and not having to take care of them fully on their own. I'm sure if these teens got kicked out of their home and had to worry about putting food on the table the last thing they would be worrying about would be having sex

Kevin Bittick
Kevin Bittick

Guard the borders a bit and the numbers may drop.

Karen Husted
Karen Husted

Cut more from the Planned Parenthood budget, dummy down the students even more and the numbers will continue to rise.

Mark Oristano
Mark Oristano

I think there's really only one reason why they're getting pregnant.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@aboriginee If you truly believe what you just said about planned parenthood, then you have never stepped into one of their clinics.  Plenty of women get birth control and health checks at these places.  you are the one perpetuating a lie for your own personal reasons.  Get off the kool aid your fine church has you drinking 

Daniel
Daniel

@aboriginee 

Another fine Christian from the great state of Texas. (A begrudging 2 extra-credit points for spelling "milquetoast" correctly; minus 1 for not seeming to know what it means.)  

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Blake Wilson just becuase they dont pop out the baby in HP doesnt mean they aint fucking without birth control.  Mommy just happens to have the money to get that little hiccup taken care of.

Daniel
Daniel

@Blake Wilson 

Kids in HP are discreetly getting abortions on their parents' dime, while those same parents donate generously to anti-abortion conservative groups. God told Rick Perry that this is all good and well, so long as he does his level best to curtail access to abortion for the poor and working classes. 

russp
russp

@chill215 

In the communities where this problem is most common, whether they get kicked out or stay at home, parents are not footing the bill. It's tax payer funded welfare, food stamps and child care carrying the financial load.


Daniel
Daniel

@Anna_Merlan @ScottsMerkin Technically, it was not you, but your diatribe, that was characterized as milquetoast. It may be the first time in the history of the English language the two words have appeared together: "milquetoast diatribe."  I'm not even sure how a diatribe can be milquetoast. "Fie unto the accursed wretch who discontinued that magnificent product, French vanilla coffee creamer!!!"   

aboriginee
aboriginee

@ScottsMerkin

You're right about one thing: I do have a personal reason for striving to educate people about the atrocities of abortion. I have three children of my own. Two of them were born several weeks premature. My middle boy was just over four lbs. at birth. When I think about how he fought - how his doctors and nurses fought - for a chance at life, I'm saddened that anyone would so callously discard that great gift. Babies larger than my son was are being slaughtered by the hundreds and thousands every day. The media in this country enables this genocide by refusing to report the truth about what goes on in those clinics. I'm surprised that the Huffington Post is actually doing the right thing by covering the Kermit Gosnell trial in Philadelphia. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/04/kermit-gosnells-abortion-_n_3017956.html That's more than can be said for ABC, NBC or CBS. They've swept this under the rug.  

aboriginee
aboriginee

@ScottsMerkin 

That's not true. In my indiscriminate youth, I once accompanied a (girl)friend to a PP clinic so that she could get condoms/birth control. I don't deny that they offer other services in order to put a good face on what pays the light bill.

Like Daniel, you have misconstrued what I said. I suggested (correctly) that PP is chiefly interested in what they make most of their money from, and that is undeniably the slaughter of innocent human life. You are the one drinking the Kool-Aid from a liberal intelligentsia that is deep in the pockets of NARAL, NOW and PP.

Abortion is a +$1B/yr industry, funds from which go to support political candidates who will turn a blind eye to the horror that goes on in those clinics if it helps them to attain elective office. They then perpetuate the cycle of death that disproportionately targets blacks and latinos by making it easier to obtain those "women's health services," which is always PC-code for "abortion." 

The abortion industry is culpable for the modern day genocide that is being waged against the black community. Read the testimonies from a black preacher who put down the Kool-Aid and had the courage to call a spade a spade. http://www.blackgenocide.org/black.html 

aboriginee
aboriginee

@Daniel 

My apologies for attempting to use a noun to modify another noun. I intended its use in the same way that one might "Bogart" an object. Still, pretty coherent for a midnight diatribe.

Also, nothing that I said could be inferred as being fundamentally Christian. Who's to say that I'm not a Buddhist who just happens to oppose the severing of a viable fetus's spinal cord and suctioning out of his/her brain just because its dumb bitch of a mother considers he/she to be nothing more than an inconvenient lump of tissue? Your knee-jerk assumption that anyone who is pro-life must be a devout churchgoer is rooted in ignorance.     

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@Daniel Your evidence of rampant abortions to teen agers in Park Cities is from what source? Correlation to political contribution lists from what analysis? Or more likely uninformed statements from someone that likely knows nothing about the Park Cities and may not even know anyone that lives there? Alex, I pick option 3 for 200.

russell.allison1
russell.allison1

@ScottsMerkin @bealotcoolerifyoudid You're wrong-hotter temps means  women wear less clothing, men get driven wild by those unharnessable natural urges  and more readily viewable female flesh and the women don't say no and voila:  global warming=more baby-makin'.

Daniel
Daniel

@ScottsMerkin @aboriginee That should be their radio jingle: 


[very generally in the cadence and spirit of the Green Acres theme]

♫ ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♭

"Get your vagina cared for at PP ...

A healthy cooter shouldn't be a luxury!

We'll squeeze your tit and image it,

and all for free --

Unless your state's run by Mr. Rick Perry!"



"

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@aboriginee ah the grand ole assumption that "Barry" is my boy, and now its a race thing, go figure, fucking dumbass.  Some women dont have a family doctor, some women only get their Vaginas taken care of at PP.  anyhow, its obvious that you HATE PP and HATE women having a place to go get healthcare, HATE, that is so Christian, or Buddhist or whatever the fuck you want to call yourself.  Keep your filthy hands out of the Vaginas of others.  

aboriginee
aboriginee

@ScottsMerkin

Helps them with what? The mammograms that PP doesn't perform? http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/mammograms.asp

Or the pap smears that women can get from their family doctor? Hell, if pap smears are so damned important, why does your boy Barry seem to think that women only need one every 3 years? That's all that Obamacare will pay for. The American Cancer Society says that cervical cancer can grow and spread within one year of a clean pap: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003094-pdf.pdf

I'm not going to bother producing statistics from sources that you will instantly discredit as being partisan or agendist in nature. It doesn't matter if the babies were 2 lbs. or 10. The US Census Bureau's findings speak volumes: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0101.pdf.

From 1990-2007, 55% of all black pregnancies were terminated. For that 18 year period, there are a total of 65 million Americans who are not sitting in a school desk, playing football, learning to drive, getting their first jobs, paying taxes, etc. They're just gone. You can turn a blind eye to that and say that it all boils down to a woman's choice, but at some point, you have to take a step back and think about the good of society. We are worse off for those who - by their mothers' selfishness - never got the chance to contribute to it.   


ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@aboriginee I dont care if you are against abortions, thats fine, but what Perry did by defunding an organization that helps so many women is a joke.  Also I would like to see the numbers in print that show thousands of babies a day over 5 lbs or that late term are being aborted.  

Side note, my boy was premature, weigh 4 lbs 5 oz spent 17 days in the NICU, I know how that feels, but Im in no position to tell anyone or any women what is best for their body

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@aboriginee so much here to breakdown.  

"That's not true. In my indiscriminate youth, I once accompanied a (girl)friend to a PP clinic so that she could get condoms/birth control. I don't deny that they offer other services in order to put a good face on what pays the light bill. "

A majority of the PP clinics dont even perform abortions

"Like Daniel, you have misconstrued what I said. I suggested (correctly) that PP is chiefly interested in what they make most of their money from, and that is undeniably the slaughter of innocent human life. You are the one drinking the Kool-Aid from a liberal intelligentsia that is deep in the pockets of NARAL, NOW and PP."

I promise Im not drinking the Kool-Aid, you are so stuck in your belief that they are only there to make money from abortions, you are the one stuck in your belief.  W/O PP so many other babies would be born to unwanting parents who were just trying to get birth control or maintain healthy reproductive organs.

bortion is a +$1B/yr industry, funds from which go to support political candidates who will turn a blind eye to the horror that goes on in those clinics if it helps them to attain elective office. They then perpetuate the cycle of death that disproportionately targets blacks and latinos by making it easier to obtain those "women's health services," which is always PC-code for "abortion." 

The abortion industry is culpable for the modern day genocide that is being waged against the black community. Read the testimonies from a black preacher who put down the Kool-Aid and had the courage to call a spade a spade."

I had no idea abortions were waging war with black people, I guess I didnt realize that an abortion walked into their house and took over their body against their will and aborted the fetus.  


bch2424
bch2424

@aboriginee @Daniel ...because it's not an infant. It's a fetus, which is NOT viable outside of the womb. Terminating an unwanted pregnancy is akin to ridding yourself of an unwanted parasite. Infants are the most innocent among us. Fetus =/= Infant. A woman should never have anything happen to her body without her consent, even when that thing happens to be a fetus that will grow into an infant.

Daniel
Daniel

@aboriginee @Daniel So when you misuse the word milquetoast, it's a regrettable expedient, but when I misuse the word milquetoast, it's a mortal sin. Got it.

aboriginee
aboriginee

@Daniel 

You can call it what you want. There's nothing submissive or meek about what I said. It hardly matters whether I attend church or not - I'm entitled to the same degree of disgust as any Catholic or Baptist or Muslim or Jew for a practice that inflicts incalculable pain on the most innocent among us. When's the last time somebody stabbed you in the back of the neck with a pair of scissors? If you've suddenly become an "inconvenience" or a "burden" to me, is it socially acceptable for me to do that to you? No, you say? Then why the hell should it be any more acceptable for an infant? Tell the truth. 

Daniel
Daniel

@aboriginee @Daniel 

Milquetoast is often used as an adjective, whether Webster prescribes it or not. But it means submissive, timorous or, colloquially speaking, "wimpy." 

And enough with this mealy-mouthed "who's to say" business. Talk about milquetoast. I call bullshit.

moiv.tx
moiv.tx

@MikeWestEastTeens from all socioeconomic groups become pregnant in roughly the same numbers, because kids are prone to magical thinking. Teens from affluent families have early abortions and go back to school on Monday. 

Kids from the lower end of the socioeconomic scale continue their pregnancies in far greater numbers when they have been given no vision of any other kind of future for themselves. Good students planning for college have early abortions, while others delay. Kids (of all races and ethnicities) from unsupportive families are far more likely to wait until later in the pregnancy to inform their parents, who are thus more likely not to be able to afford a later abortion procedure, as Texas law limits abortion after 15 weeks to highly expensive ambulatory surgical centers. 

It's easy to talk crap in a comment thread. It's harder to watch these kids struggle with the odds stacked so high against them. After working as a patient advocate in abortion care for 20 years, one thing I do know is that "uninformed statements" like yours are not helping.



ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@MikeWestEast Park Cities is just another city, it just happens to have a lot of money, money doesn't make you smart.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...