Here is teen pregnancy, the short take. Teen birth, unwed birth, abortion, total pregnancy, and sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates closely parallel those of adults of their community, class, and era.1 In fact, 6 in 10 men who impregnate teenagers are adults.2 The younger the pregnant teen, the bigger the partner age gap and the more likely she was to have suffered family chaos, including sexual abuse and other violence.3 In 2005, among females under age 20, 60 percent of all live births, 64 percent of abortions, 62 percent of fetal losses, and 61 percent of all pregnancies involved black, Hispanic, and other nonwhite minorities.4 More than four in five involve impoverished and low-income teens. Teenagers living in more affluent areas have very low pregnancy rates comparable to those in Western European countries.
Therefore, it should be impossible to discuss "teenage pregnancy" without raising the pivotal issues of adult sexual behaviors, adult fatherhood, family abuses, race, poverty, and lack of opportunity. Yet, these are exactly the issues America's debate, by unanimous consent, takes off the table. Modern American teen-pregnancy discussion rivals the War on Drugs for its evasion of every important reality—and with good reason. If its realities were admitted, teenage pregnancy would cease to be a profitable institutional commodity. The interests of the big players in the debate are best served by ferreting out perpetual excuses to rehash interest groups' emotion-laden talking points. Following is a very bad, very common example:
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