Roundup: Teen Pregnancies on the Rise, Heads Still in the Sand

Robin Marty

Teen pregnancy is on the rise. Will grownups finally take their heads out of the sand?

It’s the news that very few of us were shocked to hear: teen pregnancy rates rose in 2006, according to the latest from the Guttmacher Institute. But when it comes to addressing the problem, will real progress get made, or are parents, lawmakers and anti-choice interest groups still playing ostrich with their heads in the sand?

Guttmacher, always a fan seeing the bright side of everything, points to a possible "silver lining" from the cloud of news of a 7% of teenage girls getting pregnant in 2006.

The discouraging trends may actually have a modest silver lining.
They may provide those concerned about too-early pregnancy and
childbearing a fresh opportunity to make their case to policymakers,
parents, practitioners, and others.

In
addition, the extraordinary declines in teen pregnancy and childbearing
over the past two decades have proven to cynics that progress can be
made on tough issues.

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So what’s causing the rates to rise?  The proliferation of abstinence only sex ed classes.

Guttmacher and others suggest the increase is
related to a focus on abstinence-only sex education programs under the
Bush administration.

Funding for abstinence doubled from 2000 to
2003, to $120 million. By 2008, funding was at $176 million. Guttmacher
is an outspoken opponent of abstinence-only education.

"The focus on abstinence and the shifts in pregnancy occurred about the same time," says Guttmacher’s Lawrence Finer.

Of course, with the Obama administration considering restoring $50 million of the $150 million in abstinence only educational funding, the abstinence crew is fighting hard to point fingers to other causes for the first rise in pregnancy since 1990.

"Research unmistakably indicates that delaying sexual initiation rates
and reducing the total number of lifetime partners is more valuable in
protecting the sexual health of young people than simply passing out
condoms," said Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education
Association, who blamed the increase on several factors.

"Contributors include an over-sexualized culture, lack of involved
and positive role models, and the dominant message that teen sex is
expected and without consequences," Huber said. The Obama
administration is launching a $110 million pregnancy prevention
initiative focused on programs with proven effectiveness but has left
open the possibility of funding some innovative approaches that include
encouraging abstinence.

Perhaps new ways of looking at teen sex and its consequences is a good start.  If so, Hollywood is beginning to make moves to showcase the less glamorous side of teen sex, as an episode of "Friday Night Lights" that focuses on abortion recently did.

Of course, regardless of numbers of teens getting pregnant, the right will always come up with the same answer: cut Planned Parenthood’s funding.  In their minds, any penny that Planned Parenthood gets is penny going to abortions, regardless of the designation.

Abortion advocates often argue that the tax money Planned Parenthood
absorbs goes to its educational programs and not to abortions per se.
However, as any business knows, money coming in the door becomes part
of an operating budget. Tax money designated for "education" on a
balance sheet only means that monies from abortions are freed up for
other uses.

Will we ever find the right way to talk to teens and reverse the upward trend in teen pregnancy rates?  Baylor Teen Health Clinic has a good approach, and it’s as easy as ABC.

 “Young people simply do not understand the risks associated with
sexually transmitted infections and HIV,” Smith said. “We talk to them
very candidly not only about pregnancy but also STIs and HIV.”

The teen clinic uses the ABC model, which urges teens to (A) abstain
from sex, but if they choose not to do that to (B) be faithful and (C)
use a condom.

“Abstinence is something that should be strongly considered but when
teens choose not to be, you have to give them a plan B,” Smith said.

 

Mini Roundup: It’s bad enough if you’re in an abusive relationship.  Now it looks like you need to lock up your birth control, too…

 

Rise
in teenage pregnancy rate spurs new debate on arresting it
Washington Post

Contraceptive
pills may reduce a woman’s bone density
Washington Post

Senate
passes ultrasound
abortion bill
Louisville Courier-Journal

Kansas
man killed
abortion
doctor without a word: court
AFP

Usher:
Suspect visited slain
abortion doc’s church
Kansas City Star

Group
protests Tebow’s possible anti-
abortion ad
Kansas City Star

Teen
pregnancy,
abortion
rates rise
USA
Today

Tens
of Thousands March Against
Abortion in San Francisco
The New American

MONAHAN:
Nix
abortion
funding
Washington
Times

President
Affirms Support for
Abortion
CitizenLink

Defendant
Identified As Killer Of Kansas
Abortion Provider
NPR

Prosecution
presents case in
abortion doc’s death
Washington Post

 

January 25

Friday
Night Lights takes on
abortion
Feministing

Deal-breaker,
Thy Name is
Abortion
Huffington Post

Lawmakers
Credit Pro-Life Movement for Stopping Pro-
Abortion Health Care Bill
LifeNews.com

Male
Abusers Often Sabotage
Birth Control With Partners
Palm Beach Post

Teens
turn to new options for
birth control

BCM News

Pro-Life
News: CNN, March for Life, Washington Post, Baby Isaiah, Assisted Suicide
LifeNews.com

Trial
Begins for Man Charged With Killing Abortionist
The New American

Pro-Life
Ohio Marks 37th Anniversary Of Roe vs. Wade
WMFD.com

Supreme
Court Ruling Sets Up Attack on Precedent for Pro-Abortion Roe Case
LifeNews.com

Pro-Life
Advocates Confront Notre Dame’s Father Jenkins at March for Life
LifeNews.com

Starting
over on Health Bill would be
Pro-Life Victory: Knoxville Bishop
Lifesite

Tebow’s
pro-life ad
set for Super Bowl
Washington
Times

Swearing
Off Sex: Can Bristol Palin Stick by Abstinence Pledge?
ABC News

Male
Abusers Often Sabotage Birth Control With Partners
U.S. News & World Report

Reproductive
coercion is a factor in unintended pregnancies
Los Angeles Times

Sex
lesson guidance stresses right to say ‘No’
Independent

Women’s
virginity ‘a precious gift’, says Tony Abbott
Herald Sun

Teen
Pregnancy Rate on the Rise
PR Newswire

US
passes 50 million
abortion mark
BP News

CBS
urged to scrap Super Bowl ad with Tebow, mom
Washington Post

Usher
testifies he saw Kan.
abortion doc’s slaying
Houston Chronicle

Abortion
Remains Top Obstacle to Health Bill amid Long Silence from Dems
Lifesite

Abortion
Protest, Counter-Protest Tradition Pushes On Through Rain
The San Francisco Appeal

Did
the ‘Stupak Bomb’ Explode?
The Washington Independent

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Republican National Convention Edition

Ally Boguhn

The Trump family's RNC claims about crime and the presidential candidate's record on gender equality have kept fact-checkers busy.

Republicans came together in Cleveland this week to nominate Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention (RNC), generating days of cringe-inducing falsehoods and misleading statements on crime, the nominee’s positions on gender equality, and LGBTQ people.

Trump’s Acceptance Speech Blasted for Making False Claims on Crime

Trump accepted the Republican nomination in a Thursday night speech at the RNC that drew harsh criticism for many of its misleading and outright false talking points.

Numerous fact-checkers took Trump to task, calling out many of his claims for being “wrong,” and “inflated or misleading.”

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 Among the most hotly contested of Trump’s claims was the assertion that crime has exploded across the country.

“Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement,” Trump claimed, according to his prepared remarks, which were leaked ahead of his address. “Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60 percent in nearby Baltimore.”

Crime rates overall have been steadily declining for years.

“In 2015, there was an uptick in homicides in 36 of the 50 largest cities compared to the previous years. The rate did, indeed, increase nearly 17 percent, and it was the worst annual change since 1990. The homicide rate was up 54.3 percent in Washington, and 58.5 percent in Baltimore,” explained Washington Post fact checkers Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee. “But in the first months of 2016, homicide trends were about evenly split in the major cities. Out of 63 agencies reporting to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, 32 cities saw a decrease in homicides in first quarter 2016 and 31 saw an increase.”

Ames Grawert, a counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, said in a statement posted to the organization’s website that 2016 statistics aren’t sufficient in declaring crime rate trends. 

“Overall, crime rates remain at historic lows. Fear-inducing soundbites are counterproductive, and distract from nuanced, data-driven, and solution-oriented conversations on how to build a smarter criminal justice system in America,” Grawert said. “It’s true that some cities saw an increase in murder rates last year, and that can’t be ignored, but it’s too early to say if that’s part of a national trend.” 

When Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, was confronted with the common Republican falsehoods on crime during a Thursday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, he claimed that the FBI’s statistics were not to be trusted given that the organization recently advised against charges in connection with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.

“According to FBI statistics, crime rates have been going down for decades,” Tapper told Manafort. “How can Republicans make the argument that it’s somehow more dangerous today when the facts don’t back that up?”

“People don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods,” said Manafort, going on to claim that “the FBI is certainly suspect these days after what they did with Hillary Clinton.”

There was at least one notable figure who wholeheartedly embraced Trump’s fearmongering: former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. “Great Trump Speech,” tweeted Duke on Thursday evening. “Couldn’t have said it better!”

Ben Carson Claims Transgender People Are Proof of “How Absurd We Have Become”

Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson criticized the existence of transgender people while speaking at the Florida delegation breakfast on Tuesday in Cleveland.  

“You know, we look at this whole transgender thing, I’ve got to tell you: For thousands of years, mankind has known what a man is and what a woman is. And now, all of a sudden we don’t know anymore,” said Carson, a retired neurosurgeon. “Now, is that the height of absurdity? Because today you feel like a woman, even though everything about you genetically says that you’re a man or vice versa?”

“Wouldn’t that be the same as if you woke up tomorrow morning after seeing a movie about Afghanistan or reading some books and said, ‘You know what? I’m Afghanistan. Look, I know I don’t look that way. My ancestors came from Sweden, or something, I don’t know. But I really am. And if you say I’m not, you’re a racist,’” Carson said. “This is how absurd we have become.”

When confronted with his comments during an interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric, Carson doubled down on his claims.“There are biological markers that tell us whether we are a male or a female,” said Carson. “And just because you wake up one day and you say, ‘I think I’m the other one,’ that doesn’t change it. Just, a leopard can’t change its spots.”

“It’s not as if they woke up one day and decided, ‘I’m going to be a male or I’m going to be a female,’” Couric countered, pointing out that transgender people do not suddenly choose to change their gender identities on a whim.

Carson made several similar comments last year while on the campaign trail.

In December, Carson criticized the suggested that allowing transgender people into the military amounted to using the armed services “as a laboratory for social experimentation.”

Carson once suggested that allowing transgender people to use the restroom that aligned with their gender identity amounted to granting them “extra rights.”

Ivanka Trump Claims Her Father Supports Equal Pay, Access to Child Care

Ivanka Trump, the nominee’s daughter, made a pitch during her speech Thursday night at the RNC for why women voters should support her father.

“There have always been men of all background and ethnicities on my father’s job sites. And long before it was commonplace, you also saw women,” Ivanka Trump said. “At my father’s company, there are more female than male executives. Women are paid equally for the work that we do and when a woman becomes a mother, she is supported, not shut out.” 

“As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce. And he will focus on making quality child care affordable and accessible for all,” she continued before pivoting to address the gender wage gap. 

“Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties; they should be the norm. Politicians talk about wage equality, but my father has made it a practice at his company throughout his entire career.”

However, Trump’s stated positions on the gender wage gap, pregnancy and mothers in the workplace, and child care don’t quite add up to the picture the Trumps tried to paint at the RNC.

In 2004, Trump called pregnancy an “inconvenience” for employers. When a lawyer asked for a break during a deposition in 2011 to pump breast milk, Trump reportedly called her “disgusting.”

According to a June analysis conducted by the Boston Globe, the Trump campaign found that men who worked on Trump’s campaign “made nearly $6,100, or about 35 percent more [than women during the April payroll]. The disparity is slightly greater than the gender pay gap nationally.”

A former organizer for Trump also filed a discrimination complaint in January, alleging that she was paid less than her male counterparts.

When Trump was questioned about equal pay during a campaign stop last October, he did not outline his support for policies to address the issue. Instead, Trump suggested that, “You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.” Though he had previously stated that men and women who do the same job should be paid the same during an August 2015 interview on MSNBC, he also cautioned that determining whether people were doing the same jobs was “tricky.”

Trump has been all but completely silent on child care so far on the campaign trail. In contrast, Clinton released an agenda in May to address the soaring costs of child care in the United States.

Ivanka’s claims were not the only attempt that night by Trump’s inner circle to explain why women voters should turn to the Republican ticket. During an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Manafort said that women would vote for the Republican nominee because they “can’t afford their lives anymore.”

“Many women in this country feel they can’t afford their lives, their husbands can’t afford to be paying for the family bills,” claimed Manafort. “Hillary Clinton is guilty of being part of the establishment that created that problem. They’re going to hear the message. And as they hear the message, that’s how we are going to appeal to them.”

What Else We’re Reading

Vox’s Dara Lind explained how “Trump’s RNC speech turned his white supporters’ fear into a weapon.”

Now that Mike Pence is the Republican nominee for vice president, Indiana Republicans have faced “an intense, chaotic, awkward week of brazen lobbying at the breakfast buffet, in the hallways and on the elevators” at the convention as they grapple with who will run to replace the state’s governor, according to the New York Times.

“This is a party and a power structure that feels threatened with extinction, willing to do anything for survival,” wrote Rebecca Traister on Trump and the RNC for New York Magazine. “They may not love Trump, but he is leading them precisely because he embodies their grotesque dreams of the restoration of white, patriarchal power.”

Though Trump spent much of the primary season denouncing big money in politics, while at the RNC, he courted billionaires in hopes of having them donate to supporting super PACs.

Michael Kranish reported for the Washington Post that of the 2,472 delegates at the RNC, it is estimated that only 18 were Black.

Cosmopolitan highlighted nine of the most sexist things that could be found at the convention.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) asked, “Where are these contributions that have been made” by people of color to civilization?

News Race

At ‘Pro-Life’ Conference, Silence on Police Violence

Amy Littlefield

Among the only contributions to the national dialogue taking place over racial justice and state violence was a card circulated in the exhibit hall by a group called the Radiance Foundation that read “All Lives Matter In & Out of the Womb.”

As one of the nation’s largest anti-choice groups launched its three-day conference in Herndon, Virginia, Thursday, a very different conversation was underway on the national stage.

Across the country, peaceful protests erupted over the police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.

As Rewire’s Imani Gandy has documented, the anti-choice movement has long attempted to appropriate the language of racial justice and the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag as part of a wider effort to shame Black women and cast abortion as “Black genocide.”

But at the National Right to Life Convention, the overriding response to last week’s police killings was silence. Among the only contributions to the national dialogue taking place over racial justice was a card circulated in the exhibit hall by a group called the Radiance Foundation that read “All lives matter In & Out of the womb.”

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Rewire asked convention director Jacki Ragan whether she thought the issue should have been raised explicitly at the conference.

“We are very single issue,” Ragan said. “We are here because of a threat to human life. We believe the unborn child is a human being from the moment of fertilization. We believe the disabled should have the same rights, [the] elderly should have the same rights, so we’re very single issue. So, no, I don’t really think it would be appropriate to address what had happened other than through prayer at the conference.”

At a prayer breakfast on Friday morning, after conference-goers awoke to the news five police officers had been killed by a gunman in Dallas, Rev. Dennis Kleinmann of St. Veronica Catholic Church in Chantilly, Virginia, prayed for guidance “to make this a better world, a world free of war and violence of every kind, including attacks on those who protect us.”

Ernest Ohlhoff, National Right to Life Committee outreach director, addressed the violence more directly.

“I don’t know if any of you heard the news this morning, but unfortunately we had another catastrophe in our country,” he said. “Five police officers in Dallas were killed in a shooting and [at least] six wounded, and I would ask you to pray for them and their families.”

No prayers were offered for Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, or their families.