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Women's Health

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Teens Spearhead U.S. Abortion-Rate Drop

Despite Overall Decline, Abortions Up for Poor Women


Hogue says such efforts are misguided.

"If the right-to-life people want to help poor people they should advocate for increased Title X funding," she says. "If you don't want abortions, you should help keep people from facing the problem of unintended pregnancy. The only way for women to avoid making the choice to have abortions is for them to be able to avoid being pregnant when they don't want to be pregnant."

Hogue and Jones each say that while much of the focus has been on preventing teen pregnancy, the real issue is women in their early 20s. Women age 20-24 have the highest abortion rate of any age group.

"We've been focusing on the teens now for the last two decades, but the fact is that unintended pregnancy is largely a problem of adults," Hogue says. "If we don't have sex education in the schools, where are young men and women learning about responsible parenthood? They enter adulthood uninformed and with these reductions in services they are less capable as a group in controlling their fertility."

Brown says parents can do a lot now that will help their kids when they grow to adulthood. What's needed, she says, is for parents to give a very strong abstinence message while at the same time providing information on contraception.

"The good news from years of research is when you do this you raise the age of first intercourse, and when kids do become sexually active they use better contraception," Brown says. "Kids look to parents not just for what they should know but for what is wrong and right. You have to speak truthfully to your young people and you have to speak candidly. Forget "The Talk." This is an 18-year conversation. I don't know why people worry about a three-hour sex education class in a school. That has so little effect compared to 18 years at home."

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