The Centers for Disease Control released a report on teen pregnancy today, indicating which states have the highest and lowest rates of live births per 1,000 teenage girls. The data show that the top five states in terms of teen pregnancy rates are Mississippi, New Mexico, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. More states in the southern and southwest U.S. complete the top ten and fifteen. Those states with the lowest rates New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and other states in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.
Although the CDC says that black and Latino teens still have the highest rates, it is clear that teen pregnancy continues to be a nationwide concern; contrary to widespread belief about teen mothers, teen pregnancy is not exclusive to, or even concentrated in, states with large urban areas. The CDC also reports that teen pregnancy has fallen in every state in the country every year for the past three years, now reaching its lowest point since the 1940s. The agency sites three causes for the drop: pregancy prevention efforts and education, increased use of contraception, and a bad economy. It is unknown whether a recovery in the economy will undo all of the progress made in these rates. The United States has been successful in decreasing teen pregnancy rates, which is a good thing because statistically speaking, the children of teen mothers face more challenges than their counterparts with adult mothers. However, I can’t help but wonder how drops in teen pregnancy rates affect support for young women who do choose to have babies at a young age. There is nothing set in stone that says a teen mother can’t be a great one, and I worry that the stigma surrounding teen pregnancy might be as worthy of combatting as teen pregnancy itself. What do you think?