Abortions among teen females have become a significant issue for the American society. Tomal and Norton (2012) note that the rate of teen abortions has decreased since the 1990s but it is still significant. Thus, it has been estimated that the rate of pregnancies among American teenage females aged from 15 to 19 is the highest in the world and it makes up 26% (Sedgh, Finer, Bankole, Eilers & Singh, 2015). Clearly, the issue is associated with various socioeconomic and cultural peculiarities of the population of the United States. Notably, the rate of abortions is higher among college-educated females as many girls choose to obtain education, start a career and, after that, to start a family. Of course, abortions have various negative effects on female’s health (including their psychological state). It can lead to numerous complications, depression, anxiety and so on. This is why, it is important to develop an effective strategy to prevent teen abortions. It is possible to consider several preventive measures that have been used in the USA to develop an effective strategy.
One of these measures is implementation of parental involvement laws. Two types of such laws exist: parental notification and parental consent (Tomal & Norton, 2012). These laws are enacted in 43 states of the country. Parental notification implies that both parents (or both guardians) are informed about the procedure but there is no need in their consent. The parental consent law requires obtaining consent of both parents (or both guardians) before the procedure is carried out. Tomal and Norton (2012) claim that the laws seem to be effective as the rate of teen abortions in states (and counties) where the laws are enacted is significantly lower than in areas where such laws are not used. At the same time, the researchers also note that there are certain limitations to their research as the laws can be only one element (which is not a decisive one) contributing to prevention of teen abortion.
It has been believed that contraception is one of the most effective ways to prevent unwanted pregnancy and, hence, educators as well as officials focus on development of educational and training programs aimed at informing teenagers about contraception. Nonetheless, recent research shows that above 16% of teen females become pregnant during the first year of using contraception (Greater access to contraception does not reduce abortions, 2015). At that, if teenagers are cohabiting the rates of unwanted pregnancy are increasing, and over 48% of teens using birth control pills and over 71% of teenagers using condoms become pregnant (Greater access to contraception does not reduce abortions, 2015). It has also been acknowledged that educational programs and increased access to contraception have little effect on pregnancy and abortion rates among teens.
Finally, another significant concept affecting people’s behavior is religion and it is often believed that the rate of abortions in communities where people are religious (regularly attend the church and practice certain religions at home) should be lower. However, Tomal and Norton (2012) obtained quite surprising data. Religion often plays a negative role as the rate of abortions in such communities is not affected or can be even higher. For instance, Catholic and Orthodox churches are very negative about abortions (especially when it comes to teen abortions). Nevertheless, the rate of teen abortions in communities where these religions are practiced is quite high. Protestant church seems to have little effect on the issue. Hence, it is clear that religion cannot be seen as a crucial element in preventing teen abortions.
In view of the above said, it is possible to assume that the three strategies used should be utilized simultaneously to effectively address the issue. First, all the states should enact parental involvement laws as this will make teenagers more responsible. It is clear that many teenagers try to avoid undesirable behaviors if they know that their parents can become aware of their conduct. Notably, it is important to implement further research and identify the most effective type of such laws (parental notification or parental consent). However, it is also necessary to continue teens’ education on contraception. At that, it is crucial to let young people know that contraception does not guarantee pregnancy prevention. Teenage females should also understand all implications of teen pregnancy and abortion. Finally, it is crucial for parents (as well as religious leaders) to make sure that religious practices (for example, sermons) guide teenagers rather than intimidate them.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that parental involvement laws, contraception and religion are three major preventive measures utilized in the United States to address the issues associated with abortion among teenage females. Parental involvement laws seem to be the most effective though further research on the matter is needed. The other two measures are quite inefficient. Therefore, it is essential to employ all the three measures to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the issue. Laws and efficient education (and spiritual guidance) can help young females avoid mistakes that can have quite detrimental effects on their health and even their lives.
Greater access to contraception does not reduce abortions.
Sedgh, G., Finer, L.B., Bankole, A., Eilers, M.A., & Singh, S. Adolescent pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates across countries: Levels and recent trends. Journal of Adolescent Health, 56(2), 223-230.
Tomal, A., & Norton, S. The effect of religious membership and parental involvement laws on adult and teen abortion rates. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 2(16), 13-23.