Teen Birth Rate at a Record Low

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


The CDC released data yesterday showing that last year the birth rate in the U.S. for women aged 15 to 19 declined to a record low of 40.4 births per 1,000, down from 41.1 in 2004 (a 2% decrease). For some perspective, the rate back in 1991 was 68.1 births per 1,000 women. The decline was most pronounced among 15-17 year-olds, for whom the birth rate fell 3%, to 21.4 births per 1,000. The rate for this age group has dropped fully 45 percent since 1991.

Now, folks at the the National Abstinence Clearinghouse will laud these results as directly stemming from their abstinence-only education efforts, though there is no evidence that such education works, and plenty that the curricula is false and misleading. (Still abstinence-only ed shops have received a billion dollars in federal funding since Bush came to office.)

Choicers will be equally proud of the low rate, which they’ll point out is an outgrowth of proper access to birth control and, thus, fewer unwanted pregnancies. Still, while we’ll be hearing about the record low, coverage likely won’t focus on the flip side, that there were nearly half a million (421,123) children born to girls under 20 last year.

There is more work to be done for sure to protect women’s right to choose — whether they want to have an abortion, or take a pill, or have sex before marriage — and though there was lots of good news out of this month’s election, repro rights are still in jeopardy. The Nation’s Katha Pollitt points out that of the 22 pro-choice Dems who ran for Congress only two won, and every anti-choice woman incumbent prevailed.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest