It's always nice to see some good news coming out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (as opposed to the usual epidemic scare), and this week we learned that teen pregnancy rates have dropped to an all-time low nationwide. Unfortunately, Texas still has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation.
According to the CDC, teen pregnancy rates nationwide have been decreasing for the last couple decades, dropping a full 9 percent between 2009 and 2010. It's now at the lowest rate since the CDC began tracking the rates in 1940, mostly attributed to pregnancy prevention efforts and the availability of contraception.
But then there are the kinds of pregnancy prevention efforts that don't work. The ones where they don't teach teens how to prevent pregnancy – just that they shouldn't have sex. And not surprisingly, in those states with abstinence-only education, or with little to no sex education at all, the pregnancy rates are the highest.
Texas comes in at #4 with 52.2 teen pregnancies per 1,000 girls. The national average is now down to 34 per 1,000. Mississippi, another state with little to speak of in the way of sex ed, comes in at #1, followed by New Mexico and Arizona.
Speaking of availability of contraception, Perry is now in the midst of pulling a 180 on women's health. Realizing the mess he walked into by rejecting $30 million in federal funding for the Women's Health Program all because he doesn't like Planned Parenthood, Perry is now trying to get federal grants for other programs to free up state dollars to use for women's health. According to State Representative Jessica Farrar,
“The governor and Commissioner Suehs are going to rob state funds and federal block grants that were set aside for one program to pay for services that would have already been funded. This problem was completely avoidable.”
With leadership like this, it's easy to see why Texas still lags behind the nation, and most of the developed world, in reducing teen pregnancy.