One in Three

That's the portion of teen girls in Athens who will become pregnant before they're 20, according to an article in today's Banner-Herald.
It's not hard to see the connection between teenage parenthood and poverty, Burnett said. Teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of school, are likely to be unmarried, and their children are more likely to have expensive health problems than those of older mothers, he said.

And personally I'm really tired of the head-in-the-sand attitude of many so-called religious conservatives and republicans. The standard excuse for opposing most measures pertaining to providing reproductive health care is anecdotal: my daughter isn't doing this, so I won't support it for anyone else. Or morally superior teens aren't doing this, so I refuse to support measures that encourage immorality. First, regardless of your personal circumstances, the need is there. And second, due to the statistics, your personal cirucmstances may not be as you think they are.

But a delusional grip on the statistics isn't limited to the right:
Although most adults in Clarke County don't think unmarried teens should be sexually active, more than 70 percent also believe sexually active teens should be provided with birth control, according to the survey.

While we sometimes like to pull a Mr. Wilson and grumble on about the kids today, I'm not sure that anything has changed in the last 20 or so years....or perhaps longer. My mother taught junior high in the mid-70s, and she noted that she found it discouraging to teach kids whose prevailing destiny was teen pregnancy followed by all the usual consequences. When I was in junior high and high school in the 80s/90s there were pregnant teens among us. So, it's perfectly fine to note your opinion about whether or not teens should be having sex...but that doesn't really matter when the vast majority of them are. And furthermore have been. Forever.

And as a feminist, I think it's important to note what choice really is. It's the choice to have children, or not have children, when it is most appropriate for you to do so. It is the choice to protect your ability to earn (at that age to become self-sufficient) by delaying childbearing until you are economically capable of caring for a child. Or not.

Meanwhile our choice as citizens is to give teens all the tools necessary to make their own choices. It's imperative that we do so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a well thought out post on this topic!

It really gets my goat that many of those who are so staunchly opposed to choice are equally opposed to sex education and encouraging the use of condoms. In terms of their fight against choice, they are their own worst enemy. If people were given real sex education and access to birth control, there would be less demand for abortion.