National Teen Pregnancy Rates Rise, But Not in New York

Planned Parenthood CEO Says New York Approach Makes the Difference

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ALBANY, NY (01/29/2010)(readMedia)-- New York State has avoided a new national upturn in teen pregnancy rates. According to a new study released today by the Guttmacher Institute, national rates of teen pregnancy increased from 2005 to 2006; countering a downward trend that has lasted over a decade. (

However, New York State Health Department statistics seem to indicate the New York teen pregnancy rates are continuing to drop.Patricia McGeown, President/CEO of Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood believes this reflects sustained efforts by state government and community agencies like Planned Parenthood to ensure access to confidential reproductive health services and funding of medically accurate sex education programs.

The Guttmacher Institute study shows the U.S. teen pregnancy rate rose three percent in 2006.. The study revealed that this increase spanned all major racial groups. Along with this increase, the teen abortion rate also rose one percent from 2005 to 2006.

According to state health department statistics, however, the pregnancy rate per 1000 teens ages 15-19 declined from 77.3 in 2008 to 59.2 in 2006 and to 58.4 in 2007. Upstate New York rates reflect a steady decline from 52.7 in 1998 to 41.6 in both 2006 and 2007.

In the Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood service area, Albany County's rate declined from 54.3 in 1998 to 32.1 in 2005, then increased to 37.8 in 2006, and declined to a new low of 29.9 in 2007. In Rensselaer County, the rate went from 56.4 per 1,000 in 1998 to 38.4 in 2006 and to 37.3 in 2007. Columbia County's rate went from 56.0 in 1998 to 44.7 in 2006 and to 41.6 in 2007. Only Greene County experienced an increase, going from 40.5 in 2006 to 44 in 2007.

"During the late Clinton and early Bush years," stated McGeown, "there was great pressure put on states to promote abstinence-only education. Billions of dollars were spent to tell teens to "Just say No! " Birth control and condom use were only discussed in terms of failure rates. Studies conducted by Congress of the most frequently used abstinence only curricula found that they were often full of misinformation, inaccuracies and gender bias. At the same time, many states passed laws restricting access to confidential and affordable reproductive health services for teens."

According to McGeown, New York State resisted much of this trend. "New York health care regulations protect teen's access to services, and state legislators have approved funding to help ensure that those services are affordable. Although the state did accept abstinence-only funding for some years, it also provided grant funding for medically accurate sex education programs.

McGeown also points to the ongoing coordinated effort by community organizations, parents and Planned Parenthoods to promote and provide comprehensive, medically accurate sex education and confidential services.

"Each year, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood provides reproductive health services to over 1,000 teens (about 11% of our total family planning visits). We provide over 500 educational programs at schools and community organizations and train high school teens to serve as peer educators. We also work with parents and youth-serving professionals to improve their ability to educate teens about sexual health and responsibility."

"The Guttmacher study should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who still believes that teenagers aren't sexually active or that abstinence-only programs curb the rate of teen pregnancy" asserted McGeown. "Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood applauds President Obama and members of Congress, as well as members of the New York State Legislature who have recognized that abstinence-only programs do not work, and who are working to make funds available to schools and communities who want to invest in proven and innovative models of medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education. Now is not the time to cut back on funding. Now more than ever, we must ensure that our teenagers receive medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education that gives them the tools to make responsible decisions about their health."

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