U.S. study shows decline in teen pregnancy, abortion

NEW YORK (AP) — The pregnancy rate among U.S. teenagers hit a 20-year low in 1995 and the abortion rate also dropped during the first half of the decade, according to a study released Thursday.
The authors concluded that more teens are using contraceptives or abstaining from sex, echoing a 1995 government study.
“A lot of the messages that have been put out about the importance of delaying sexual activity … seem to be having an effect,” said Susan Tew, a spokeswoman for the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which released the report.
“More teens seem to be delaying sexual activity … and among those teens who are sexually active there appears to be better contraceptive use,” she said.
One hundred and one of every 1,000 females between ages 15 and 19 was pregnant in 1995, the most recent year for which data was available, the study found.
The abortion rate fell from 40.6 per thousand teenage girls in 1990 to 30 per thousand girls in 1995. It had hovered around 42 and 43 per thousand during the 1980s.
Though the teen-pregnancy rate dropped dramatically, the nation continues to have one of the highest rates of all industrialized countries, Tew said.
The decrease in abortion was largely caused by the drop in teen pregnancies, but there was also a drop among those choosing to have abortions, Tew said. Among teens who became pregnant, 30 percent chose to have an abortion in 1995, down from 34 percent in 1990.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced in July that teen pregnancy rates were down in every state that reports data. But the CDC was unable to compile a national figure because some large states — California, Illinois and Florida — do not report abortion statistics.
The Guttmacher Institute used the CDC figures and its own survey of abortion providers to come up with a national teen pregnancy rate.
The number of teen pregnancies reported in 1995 — 889,980 — was the lowest since 1973, when 916,630 teen pregnancies were reported. The total includes births, abortions and miscarriages.
The teen pregnancy rate hit a high of 117 per 1,000 teenage girls in 1990. The 1995 rate is the lowest since 1975, according to the Guttmacher Institute.