Teen Pregnancies at Record Low In California
Teen pregnancies in California have hit an all-time low, something state officials attribute to girls receiving sex education and having access to family planning programs and reproductive health services.
Officials at the California Department of Public Health released fresh statistics Feb. 22. They report teen pregnancies reached a record low in 2008.
About 35 babies were born that year for every 1,000 female teenagers. That's two fewer babies than the 2007 rates.
Laurie Weaver, the chief of the department's Office of Family Planning, tells the Los Angeles Times that this is a testament to teaching sex education and giving girls as many options as possible."We believe the only 100 percent effective way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease is through abstinence," Weaver tells the newspaper. "But we do believe it is important to teach teens that if they choose to be sexually active, that they should be fully informed of contraceptives and have access to services."
Meanwhile, teen pregnancy rates nationally have been increasing in recent years. Compared with California's 2007 rate of 37.1 percent, the U.S. birth rate for 2007 was 42.5 percent -- up from 40.5 percent in 2005.
Californians can be proud, Norman Constantine, a senior scientist at the Public Health Institute in Oakland and a clinical professor at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, tells the Times.
"This is absolutely phenomenal," Constantine tells the paper. "It's almost unbelievable at a time when the national rate continues to go up."
Weaver is similarly proud.
"This is the lowest teen birth rate for 15- to 19-year-olds as long as we've been tracking it," she tells the Times.
Constantine gives credit to such services as the Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment Program. Some $45 million of the approximately $450 million program is used to serve teens, he tells the Times.
He also applauds California for not accepting federal dollars tied to abstinence-only funding -- a philosophy Weaver calls "abstinence plus."
Related: Sex in the media influencing teen pregnancies
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