Think Progress reports:
The Centers for Disease Control released a new report today that found that Mississippi “now has the nation’s highest teen pregnancy rate, displacing Texas and New Mexico for that lamentable title.” The report found that in 2006, the Mississippi teen pregnancy rate was over 60 percent higher than the national average and increased 13 percent since the year before.
While the new report does not explain why the state’s teen pregnancy rate is increasing, one reason may be the poor quality of its sex ed programs. As the Sexuality Information and Education Center explains, Mississippi focuses heavily on abstinence education and teachers are prohibited from demonstrating how to use contraceptives.
A reporter for ABC News’s Jackson, MS affiliate explained, “The Mississippi Department of Human Services says abstinence is the only birth control that is 100 percent effective. And that’s the only message teens need to hear.” Unfortunately, numerous studies show that abstinence-only education is not effective.
Further, a review by the House Oversight Committee found that “80% of the abstinence-only curricula…contain false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health.”
Pregnant teens in Mississippi face few options. Access to facilities that provide abortions in that state is extremely limited. Indeed, because of an unusually effective anti-choice campaign in the legislature, only a single abortion clinic remains open in the state.
Both the abject failure and the rampant underlying dishonesty of abstinence-only pogroms are well established, but holding up to the light of day, while surely not enough to overcome endemic denial about teens’ behavior on the part of their parents, every new example can’t hurt.