The teen birth rate is way down thanks to more birth control, study says

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Teen Birth Rates In The U.S. At An All Time Low


The number of teenagers giving birth in the U.S. fell dramatically between 2007 and 2012, and now researchers think it's because teens are using more, and more effective birth control.

According to the study, "Understanding the Decline in Adolescent Fertility in the United States," published this week in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the rate of teenagers giving birth has actually been going down down since the early 1990s, with the exception of a brief period from 2005 to 2007. And, between the years 2007 and 2012, the rate of 15- to 19-year olds giving birth in the U.S. dropped at an annual rate at 5.6%.

And it's not because teens are having less sex — they aren't. Rather, they're using more "highly effective methods" of contraception, like IUDs, birth control pills and injections.

2016 issues: Abortion, pro-life vs, pro-choice

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2016 issues: Abortion, pro-life vs pro-choice
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Girl holds up hand-lettered sign in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Assembly of some 150 anti-abortion protesters behind barricade in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Adrienne Luendo (rt) of Stop Patriarchy debates with anti-abortion protesters. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
AKRON, OH- SEPTEMBER 8: Donald Wilson, 64, protests against abortion in front of the Planned Parenthood Health Center on September 8, 2015 in Akron, OH. (Photo by Mary F. Calvert For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
TINLEY PARK, IL - JULY 31: Stages of a fetus are displayed at the Illinois Right To Life a table while Republican presidential hopeful and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks at the Freedom's Journal Institute for the Study of Faith and Public Policy 2015 Rise Initiative on July 31, 2015 in Tinley Park, Illinois. The event was billed as a 'frank discussion on defending the sanctity of life from conception to natural death'. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson attends a anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a Anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
A pro-choice activists holds a placard in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 22, 2015, as she and others await the pro-choice activists with the March For Life. Tens of thousands of Americans who oppose abortion are in Washington for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-abortion activists take part in the annual March for Life rally on January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-choice activists block the road as US Capitol Police escort the March For Life's front of the US Supreme Court (rear) in Washington, DC, on January 22, 2015. Tens of thousands of Americans who oppose abortion are in Washington for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Razor grass and pro-choice signs limit the view of patients entering the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, June 30, 2015. Mississippi's only abortion clinic will likely remain open at least until the fall, because the U.S. Supreme Court is taking no action until then on a dispute over a state law that could close it. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2015 file photo, college students and abortion rights activists hold signs during a rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol, in Austin, Texas. The Supreme Court refused on Monday, June 29, 2015, to allow Texas to enforce restrictions that would force 10 abortion clinics to close. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
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But, considering the history of contraception access in the U.S., even a study with results as clear-cut as this one may not convince people who want to deny teens access to birth control. In 2015, a state-wide Colorado initiative that had proved to be effective in reducing teen pregnancy by providing "free or reduced-price IUDs or implantable birth control" was defunded after Republican legislators voted to end it, reported USA Today.

Despite increasingly clear benefits of giving teens access to reliable birth control, there are plenty of places in the U.S. where students aren't even allowed to learn about contraceptive options in school thanks to abstinence only sex education. Unsurprisingly, a 2011 study found a correlation between states with high rates of teenage pregnancy and states with abstinence-only education.

So while the best way to reduce teen pregnancy seems to be continuing to educate young people about contraception, it would seem some would prefer the old way.


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