Abortion in America is down, especially among adolescents, according to a recent study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the policy research arm of Planned Parenthood.
Published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, the study found an overall abortion rate decrease of 11 percent among women aged 15-44 between 1994 and 2000, and the sharpest decline – 39 percent – among adolescents ages 15-17.
AGI was quick to “explain” the sharp decrease in teen abortions, noting that “both abortion rates and birth rates for adolescents have been declining since the early 1990’s.”
They were equally quick to cite contraception as the reason teenagers aren’t having as many abortions: “The decline in adolescent pregnancy may be a continuation of a trend toward more consistent use of contraceptives and use of more effective methods.”
And predictably absent from the study and their explanatory comments was the impact the surge in abstinence has had on America’s youth, with only scant mention given to “decreases in sexual activity among at least some subgroups.”
After all, to AGI, abstinence is a dirty word.
Just ask Senior Public Policy Associate Cynthia Dailard, who published an article earlier this year bemoaning the Bush Administration’s proposal to increase federal funding for abstinence-only education. Dailard wrote that comparing teen family planning medical services and abstinence-only education is like comparing apples to oranges. Furthermore, she charged that “virginity pledge programs may in fact have harmful health consequences by deterring the use of contraceptives when teens become sexually active.”
Abstinence programs harmful? To whom? To teenagers saving themselves for a monogamous marriage? Or to AGI, who in 2000 received $1.1 million in federal funds for Title X family planning grants and Medicaid family planning services? The fact is, virginity is on the rise. According to The Washington Times, a new study of 10,000 high school students showed that virgins outnumbered their sexually active counterparts by 54 percent to 46 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported those numbers were reversed a decade ago.
The fact is, more teens are simply saying no to sex, posing an enormous financial threat to Planned Parenthood. Fewer teens having sex means not as many contraceptives to push and not as much federal money to receive.
Planned Parenthood didn’t always shy away from abstinence. In fact, Susan Newcomer of the group’s Department of Education wrote in an undated article (1986 or 1987), “Planned Parenthood has always presented abstaining from sex as one contraceptive option.” She added, “I will agree that abstinence is safe”
Abstinence, a safe method of contraception? Tell that to AGI, a non-profit organization that reported $7 million in revenues in 2000 in comparison to their program expenditures of a mere $4.7 million.
Indeed, abstinence is safe and continues to be a teenager’s only foolproof way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. The sooner AGI admits that, as their predecessors did, the better.