Does Religion Cause Teenage Pregnancy?

by Pitt Griffin on July 20, 2013 · 0 comments

in Abortion, Religion, Sex-ed.

There is a movement in this country to recriminalise abortion at the state level – especially in those states comprising the “bible belt” – and in states with rabid Republican state governments (though the two are usually the same).

The real choice.

In those same states there is also a movement to reduce sex ed in schools to “abstinence only” and to defund organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, that teach practical sex ed. It is no coincidence that those are the states with the highest rate of births to teenage girls.

In fact, of the top ten states – Mississippi (55 live births per 100,000 teen girls, 2010), Arkansas (53), New Mexico (53), Texas (52), Louisiana (48), Kentucky (46), West Virginia, (45), Alabama (44), South Carolina (43), Tennessee (43) – only New Mexico voted for Obama in 2012.

On the other hand, of the eleven states with the lowest rate of teenage births – New Hampshire (16), Massachusetts (17), Vermont (18), Connecticut (19), New Jersey (20), Maine (21), Rhode Island (22). New York (23), and tied, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virgina (27) – none are red. At best a couple are toss-ups.

Overall the rate of teenage mothers has been declining. But the rate of decline has been greater in states with more comprehensive sex ed.

Anti-abortionists might claim that the reason for a lower birth rate in the Northeast is that the high rate of abortions. It is true that the rate of abortion is higher in the Northeast than it is in the Bible Belt, but not nearly enough to explain the difference.

Combining the rate of births and abortions shows that teenagers are far more likely to become pregnant in those states professing moral values, than they are in the godless regions of the country.

Take the current poster state for the anti-abortionists – Texas – its rate of teen pregnancy is 68 per 100,000, compared with Massachusetts at 35. Or compare Fox News’ in-house moralist Mike Huckabee’s home state – Arkansas – at 72, with Vermont at just 30.

Teenage motherhood is more than just a problem for the mother. Children born to teens are less likely to graduate high-school and get a good job. And, as both children and adults, they are more likely to be a drain on the tax payer. But the smug moralists can’t see the long term consequences of their “Christian” campaigns.

Religion’s problem is that it invites its adherents to see the world as they want it to be, not as it is. Fundamental Christianity with its blind devotion to biblical literalism and innerancy, as well as years of man-made orthodoxy, causes people to ignore the most obvious truths – such as evolution, that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, that climate change is happening and that kids equipped with nothing but “abstinence only” sex ed, and restricted access to contraception, will become pregnant.

If ignorance is bliss there must be many happy fundamentalists.



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