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Teen Pregnancy is a Problem? Who knew? Not the teen.

Posted by MDViews on January 7, 2009

I am always amazed at the naiveté of normal people about teen pregnancy and illegitimate pregnancy in general. This article by AP cites new date from 2006 which now makes Mississippi the state with the highest teen pregnancy rate, displacing Texas and New Mexico. The article does lots of hand-wringing over this terrible problem and what may be causing it. Pro-sex education folks say it is because of all the abstinence programs which, according to them, always fail. Pro-abstinence education folks say it is because of the many sex education programs, which encourage sexual activity and contribute to higher teen pregnancy.  

Abstinence advocates are closer to the truth as they encourage moral behavior, but aren’t able to teach about Christ, the “why”. Sex education advocates lobby for immoral behavior. By teaching and encouraging sexual activity with the caveat of birth control and disease control, they have greatly contributed to this problem.  

Regardless, a majority of teens get pregnant (I know this will shock some of you) because they want to. They try to. They work at it. Pregnancy is their goal, not a mistake to be regretted. Pregnancy for most teens is an achievement to be celebrated, not a social disaster in need of a fix.  

There is no “cure” to the problem of teen pregnancy, when teen pregnancy is not a problem for the teen!  

Let me explain. I delivered my first baby in 1976, 30+ years ago. I’ve probably delivered in excess of 7,000 babies, give or take. I’ve provided prenatal care for all those pregnant women as well. In my 22 years in Iowa, at least 30-35% of our OB population was on welfare, the socio-economic group with the highest teen pregnancy rate. I’ve lived teen pregnancy, up close and personal.  

I’ve had a single 17 year old come to my office with 3 years of infertility, wanting me to evaluate her infertility and treat it. (I refused.) I’ve seen teens deliver a healthy baby at age 15 and have almost all the girls from her 9th grade class come to ooh and aah over the baby. Nothing but smiles and joy.  

Why is this? Why is teen pregnancy and illegitimate birth so accepted and desired, especially by the poor and socially disadvantaged and especially by the black minority?    

It’s easy to figure out, really.    

Look at the situation the girl is in. Usually, her home is chaotic. Relationships that should be permanent and nurturing come and go like the seasons. Her father may be in and out of the picture, usually out. She may be living with her mom and her mom’s current live-in boyfriend. She may have step-siblings today and new ones in a year. She may have experience with drugs or alcohol in the home. She has lacked an intact family and, although she often doesn’t even know it, she desperately wants someone to love and someone to love her. Her peers are sexually active, hooking up here and there. She’s had sex education since grade school, is familiar with the process of sexual intercourse. Getting a boyfriend and having sex is no big deal. She feels trapped in her current situation at home and school and wants out.    

Now, look at what happens if she gets pregnant. First, she automatically qualifies for Title 19 which is free health care. She can go on welfare (income maintenance), move out, get her own apartment and get food stamps and rent. She can drop out of school. The state will provide transportation to and from school or doctor appointments. She will have a social network of paid government employees who will “harvest” her*. Once the baby is born, she will have an object of affection and will have a social network of other teens in her same situation, none of whom have to work. So they hang together, talk on the phone, visit at each other’s apartments about their latest encounter with a new guy, share baby stories, watch TV, and sometimes plan their next pregnancy.   

Uncle Sam has taken the role of husband. The husband or man in the home is totally unnecessary, and good riddance many of the unmarried girls have said to me. They want nothing to do with the baby’s father and especially do not want a husband. Men too close are difficult and just add more work. Besides, it’s not that hard to hook up with a new guy to have another baby if needed. They don’t care about child support. In fact, many won’t even name the father just so the state can’t find him. If the baby’s daddy is forced to pay child support, he or his mother often wants to be involved in the baby’s life, another mess to be avoided.  

Do I begrudge needed individuals from availing themselves of the help offered? No! Should they abort to prevent teen pregnancy? Double no! Does the system sometimes work the way it was intended, as a temporary help for those hit with hard times? Yes! But not as often as I would like. Is more birth control the answer? Emphatic no! Birth control is everywhere for these teen girls. Do some pregnant teens regret conceiving, show remorse, marry the baby’s father and go down the right path? Yes! But again, in the lower socio-economic group, such behavior is rare.

So, what’s the real problem and the real answer? The problem is sin. Sex outside marriage leads to a plethora of problems, teen pregnancy being one. The answer is Christ and His regenerating power, for the teen, her family and other families. (Reforming the welfare systems wouldn’t hurt either, but unless hearts are changed, laws won’t change.)  

*WIC will send her to Title 19, will send her to the welfare office for “income maintenance”, will send her to Job Training Partnership Association (JTPA), will send her to the state-run community college to enroll for her GED, will send her to the county health department for prenatal vitamins and frequent home visits by the county nurse, and on and on. I don’t even know all the programs available. But in my former town, the people in the government agencies all knew each other by name. Think about your job if you provide a government service to pregnant teens. Your job depends on the number of clients you serve. The more clients you have, the bigger your budget, the bigger your office, the bigger your staff, the bigger your fiefdom. So, the heads of these agencies viewed a pregnant teen as money in the bank and job security.    

You may be thinking our public servants could not be so crass or callous. Well, how about this. Our community college offered childbirth classes for a fee. A substantial fee. Our hospital provided better childbirth classes for free. Our teens on welfare were automatically signed up by the social workers for the community college class. The government paid the tuition and the college had students for their class. I spoke with the people at the community college and encouraged them to send these pregnant girls to the hospital class for free.  They were offended and saw nothing wrong with bilking the tax payers for this extra, unneeded expense. When I’d mention to the teens could take the childbirth classes at the hospital for nothing, the teens didn’t care. Both cost nothing to them. But the taxpayers paid for the class at the college. The community college class was almost exclusively attended by welfare women. Anyone not on welfare would have to pay. And the classes at the hospital were better and free.

That’s what I mean by “harvesting” a pregnant teen on welfare.

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