Over half of all pregnancies in Texas are unintended, of these about 26%, or 13.5% of all pregnancies are completely unwanted. When one takes into consideration pregnancies lost to miscarriage and wanted pregnancies that end in abortion for medical reasons, the rate of unwanted pregnancies is almost identical to the abortion rate. (Kost 2013)

This aligns well with the reasons most women give for having abortions, with the top reasons being (Finer 2005):

  • “Having a baby would dramatically change my life.”
  • “Can’t afford a baby now.”
  • “Don’t want to be a single mother...”
  • “Have completed my childbearing.”
  • “Not ready for a(nother) child.”
  • “Don’t want people to know I had sex or got pregnant.”
  • “Don’t feel mature enough to raise a(nother) child.”

These reasons basically add up to one thing: the pregnancy was unwanted, for one reason or another.

Whatever your moral judgment of this reasoning, it is unquestionably clear that the incidence of abortions can be reduced dramatically by attempting to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, in whatever form that takes.

As almost all pregnancies among teens are unplanned or unwanted, around 75% (Finer 2010), we can actually see this truth played out in teen pregnancy and abortion rates. The teen pregnancy rate reached a peak in 1990 and has been steadily declining since then. This decline mirrors the rise of classroom based sex education in the United States. Since the teen pregnancy rate began declining, there has been a corresponding decline in the rate of teen abortions, both in overall rate and as a proportion of the teen pregnancy rate. At the peak of teen pregnancy rate in 1990, 34.6% of teen pregnancies ended in abortion. Since then there has been a steady decline in that proportion, down to 26.3% in 2008 – the last year for which data is available (Kost 2012). I can find no evidence of any cause for the decline in the teen abortion rate other than its corresponding decline in teen pregnancies, and therefore unwanted teen pregnancies.

Teen sexual activity for this same period declined between 1991 and 2001, but leveled off after 2001. The rate of teen pregnancies continued to decline during this entire period, however, raising questions about the cause of the decline of teen pregnancy rates. In his study addressing the reasons for the decline in teen pregnancy rates, looking at the period between 1995 and 2002 – a period when teen sexual activity was still declining – Dr. Santelli concludes, “[w]e estimated that 14% of the change [in the teen pregnancy rate] observed among 15- to 19-year-olds was attributable to a decrease in the percentage of sexually active young women and that 86% was attributable to changes in contraceptive method use; the corresponding percentages among 15- to 17-year-olds were 23%. … All of the change in pregnancy risk among 18- and 19-year-olds was the result of increased contraceptive use” (Santelli 2007). This study found that not only did contraception use increase, but there were significant increases in the use of more effective birth control and the use of multiple forms of contraception, such as medical birth control and a condom. Because this study was done when teen sexual activity was still declining, we can conclude that now that teen sexual activity has ceased declining, almost the entire continued reduction of the teen pregnancy rate is due to contraceptive use.

It is hard to state with absolute certainty but this and other evidence suggests that the reduction in the number of unwanted teen pregnancies through the effective use of contraception is the most probable cause of the corresponding decline in the rate of abortions (Wind 2012). So how do we encourage the use of contraception?

Looking at in-school sex education program studies around this same time, Dr. Kirby found that comprehensive sex education programs, those that "supported both abstinence and the use of condoms and contraceptives for sexually active teens", had significant and replicable results in reducing teen sexual activity and increasing the use of contraception. This study also found that programs that stress only abstinence-until-marriage "did not delay the initiation of sex, increase the return to abstinence or decrease the number of sexual partners," and did not have any effect on the use of contraception. While these programs did "improved teens’ values about abstinence or their intentions to abstain" it also found that "these improvements did not always endure and often did not translate into changes in behavior” (Kirby 2007).

Conclusions

We have seen that: The vast majority of abortions are undergone because the pregnancy is unwanted. Declines in the rate of pregnancy among teens, most of which are unwanted, brought about not just a proportional reduction in the number of abortions but also saw the abortion rate reduce relative to the declining teen pregnancy rate. Almost all of the decline in teen pregnancy rates over the last twenty-five years is due to increased use of contraception. Comprehensive sex education curriculum have been shown to increase the use of contraception and somewhat decrease sexual activity, while abstinence education has no effect on these behaviors.

It is highly probably that the introduction of comprehensive sex education courses into Texas public schools will increase the use of contraception among sexually active teens, reducing the number of unwanted teen pregnancies and, thereby, bringing about a lower occurrence of abortions.

Therefore, anti-abortion activists should support a more realistic and evidence based approach to sex education in Texas public schools as a means to accomplish their goal of reducing the number of abortions.

Afterward

Among those that advocate for the end of legal abortions there is a high rate of rejection of comprehensive sex education programs. This is likely due to the religious nature of their objections to both. Among these people there is a moral judgment cast on sex outside of marriage, that it is against the will of their god and that the negative consequences of such actions are a moral judgment from their god or gods. Because of this these people hope to remove the availability of options that minimize the likelihood of negative consequences of sex outside of marriage because they see these options as defying the intentions of their god or gods.

Such people attempt to use the state as a tool in enforcing their morality upon those that defy their god, or gods, by outlawing access to abortions or eliminating state involvement in contraception and sex education. Legal protection of access to abortion or teaching about contraception is viewed as the state acting to encourage such behavior, creating a "permissive" environment for acting against the wiil of their god or gods.

Besides this being a very dark and barbaric view of the world, it is not the place of the state to impose a moral system on its citizens or act as the 'hand of some god' by carrying out 'its intentions.' It is the job of the state to deal with the world in which we live. In our state the sexual activity of teens is constant , despite the efforts of the state to impose religious standards of sexual behavior. Insofar as we can all agree that reducing the number of abortions is a positive endeavor, it is clear that the only effective means to reduce teen pregnancy, and thereby teen abortion, is to educate teens on contraception use.

Any objection to this can clearly be seen for what it is, an attempt to use the state as a tool to impose their personal religious convictions.

[Bibliography]

Advocating for the concerns of Secular Texans

© 2014 Secular Texas All rights reserved