WASHINGTON, Apr 30 ( – Reports released yesterday from the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Allan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) indicate that the rate of teen pregnancy in 1996 has dropped by 17 per cent from a high in 1990. There were approximately 880,000 teen pregnancies in 1996 – just under one for every 10 teen women. Furthermore, the rate of abortions among teenagers dropped 31 per cent from 1986-1996 with just over 1 in three pregnant teens aborting in 1996.

AGI, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, immediately claimed that the reduced rates were due to increased use of contraceptives by teens. Pro-life forces, however, refuted this specious claim. Helen Alvare, director of pro-life activities for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), told the Conservative News Service (CNS) that the drop in pregnancy rates are due to teen abstinence. Alvare noted that studies have shown that while the overall teen birth rate has declined, sexually-active teens are having more babies.

Cathy Brown, director of the American Life League’s youth wing Why Life? agrees. In a press release Brown said “it’s abstinence-only programs that deserve all the credit for a decline in unwed pregnancy, not businesses that created the problem in the first place and now want credit for pretending to be a part of the solution.” Brown recalled that “in 1970, Planned Parenthood created a massive explosion in unwed teen pregnancy by selling birth control to kids under the guise that it would protect them from pregnancy and disease.” Brown notes that unwed teen births quadrupled from 1960-1990. “And that doesn’t include 1.5 million abortions each year,” said Brown.