Accidental Pregnancy and Why it Matters
The United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world, and Texas is fifth highest in the 50 states, with the highest rate of repeat teen pregnancies! That’s not surprising, given that 25% of Texas school districts don’t teach sex education and almost 60% teach abstinence-only.
The figure below shows the 2012 birth rates in teens by state. As you can see, Texas sits right in the middle of a hotbed of teen pregnancy and births, along with New Mexico, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky and West Virginia.
It’s not just teens having accidental pregnancies either. In Texas, more than half of all pregnancies (54%) are accidental.
The situation has worsened recently in Texas counties that used to be served by Planned Parenthood. In 2011, Texas defunded Planned Parenthood, leaving many counties without any services. A new study reports that those counties had an increase in Medicaid-covered births in the 18 months following funding removal, whereas counties with services showed a decrease in Medicaid-covered births.
Teenage pregnancy has social consequences. Compared with women who have babies later in life, teenagers who have babies are:
- Less likely to finish high school;
- More likely to rely on public assistance;
- More likely to be poor as adults; and
- More likely to have children who have poorer educational, behavioral, and health outcomes over the course of their lives than do kids born to older parents.
Accidental pregnancies cost the taxpayer too. In 2010, more than 57% of all births in Texas were publicly funded at a cost of nearly $3 billion—almost a third of which was paid by Texas. That is our tax dollars that could be invested in education or health, paying for a preventable situation.
Our country as a whole loses out too, as each student dropping out of school represents about $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes, and productivity.
Pregnancy is not the only unintended consequence of sex—disease is another consequence and a potentially fatal one. Texas ranked third among the 50 states in the number of HIV diagnoses in 2015. Texas also ranks 16th in syphilis, 13th in chlamydia, and 11th gonorrhea. In fact, Austin has more sexually transmitted disease cases than 50 other cities surveyed, and Dallas is ninth!
The disease risk is higher for young people too. Of the 20 million new sexually transmitted infection or “STI” cases every year, about half in 2000 occurred among individuals aged 15 to 24.
This book aims to improve these statistics, providing marital education in an easy-to-read, nonjudgmental fashion. Why “marital” education instead of “sex” education? We chose this name in hope of reaching parents who support abstinence-only education.
Abstinence-only education may have a positive benefit in delaying the onset of sexual activity—but it can lead to marriage at an earlier age. Without marital education, those young couples may not know how to plan their family. Thus, even if they are married, young parents are still at risk for dropping out of school with all of the negative consequences mentioned above.
Further, although pregnancy is an important focus, the information presented here is also relevant for marriages in which children are not an option. We believe that whether you have children or not, reproductive health care and education is important to your well-being, and that your well-being is important to everyone’s well-being.
This book thus provides a basic education in the types of family planning and disease prevention methods available and discusses their failure rates and the common reasons for failure. It makes suggestions for doubling or trebling up (using two or three different methods) to improve the chances of avoiding accidental pregnancy and disease.
Our purpose here is not to scare young people but to provide essential information in a balanced and nonjudgmental way. Hopefully, this book will also be able to connect with parents who have been pro–abstinence-only and encourage them to consider marital education in their communities. In Texas, and other states with high HIV rates, it may mean the difference between a happy healthy life, and a shortened one fighting HIV.
A copy of this book for personal use can be downloaded at www.Treble-Up.com. A $1 donation is suggested per copy for school use. Read it, pass it on, and if you get the opportunity, vote for abstinence-plus–marital education to be taught in your local schools.