Teen Birth Rate Hits An All-Time Low Because Hello, Birth Control Works

by Cassandra Stone
Image via Shutterstock

Statistics show giving teens access to birth control is effective. Who knew?

The teen birth rate in the United States is at an all-time low, according to a new report from the Center for Disease Control. You know why? Because birth control works. Yup, that’s right. No need to overthink this one. The answer here is birth control, and easy access to it.

Last year, the teen birth rate dropped 9% in comparison to 2015. The CDC reports this is a record low in terms of teenagers having babies. That’s a significant decrease for one year, you guys. Want to really have your minds blown? Since 1991, the teen birth rate has dropped a whopping 67% according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Sure, that’s covering the span of the last 26 years. But that is HUGE. It means we’re doing something right. And that something is providing teenagers with easy and affordable access to birth control.

Here is what we know. Abstinence-only education is often federally-funded and full of misleading and ineffective information. Restrictions on birth control access for anyone, especially teens, will lead to an increase in unintended pregnancies and births. If we, as a nation, want to cut down on the number of ill-prepared teenagers getting pregnant, we need to make sure they have access to birth control.

Dr. Elise Berlan, a physician in the section of adolescent medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, recently told CNN what she feels is behind the decline in the teen birth rate. “Data [from previous years] really suggests it is access to contraceptives and use of contraceptives that has really led to these kind of changes,” she says. Berlan mentions that most teenagers are using birth control in the form of condoms, the withdrawal method, and the birth control pill.

Because teenagers are a hell of a lot smarter than they’re given credit for, and are totally capable of making responsible choices. They just need right tools: an honest education and contraceptives.

Look, we don’t want to shame the pearl-clutchers. We know there are people out there who are worried that offering realistic and thorough sex-ed to teenagers in addition to easier access to condoms and the birth control pill means every sophomore in high school is going to engage in rampant sexual activity.

But if schools and communities offer easier access to contraceptives, it doesn’t mean teenagers are going to have All The Sex. It means fewer teen pregnancies. Statistics don’t lie.

If we want to keep the teen birth rate on a steady decline–and why wouldn’t we–access to birth control is key.