NPR, June 5, 2017
Lauren Silverman

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[...] Traditionally, the two variables most commonly associated with high teen birth rates are education and poverty, but a new study co-authored by Dr. Julie DeCesare, of the University of Florida's OB-GYN residency program in Pensacola, shows that there's more at play.

"We controlled for poverty as a variable, and we found these 10 centers where their teen birth rates were much higher than would be predicted," she says.

DeCesare, whose research appears in the June issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, says several of those clusters were in Texas. The Dallas and San Antonio areas, for example, had teen pregnancy rates 50 percent and 40 percent above the national average.

Research shows teens everywhere are having sex, with about half of high school students saying they've had sexual intercourse. Gwen Daverth, CEO of the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, says the high numbers in Texas reflect policy, not promiscuity.

"What we see is there are not supports in place," Daverth says. "We're not connecting high-risk youth with contraception services. And we're not supporting youth in making decisions to be abstinent." The state needs to emulate more progressive policies found in other states, she says. [...]

abortion bioethics contraception health law policy pediatrics public health regulation religion reproductive rights