Abortion among teenage girls has been an issue of much debate for many years. Many people believe that all abortions should be illegal while others believe that there are circumstances that warrant the right to choose. Currently there is a 40% occurrence of pregnancy among teenagers an estimated 25% of these pregnancies end in abortions. (Pregnancy & Childbearing among U.S. Teens 2003) At the forefront of this issue is an organization called Planned Parenthood, which provides teenage girls with abortions. There are many reasons why teenagers choose to have abortions rather than carrying their children to term. The purpose of this discussion is to examine the factors that influence a teenager's decision to have an abortion. These factors include; economics, Planned Parenthood Programs and parental consent laws.
Do certain economic factors affect abortions in teenage pregnancies?
Do Planned Parenthood programs reduce the amount of abortions?
Will Parental Consent laws reduce the number of abortions?
When examining the factors related to teenage pregnancy and abortion, socioeconomic factors can not be ignored. An article found in the Canadian Journal of Human sexuality discusses findings of teenage pregnancy studies that were conducted in the United States and Canada. The article asserts that American studies of urban teenagers found that economics plays a large role in teenage pregnancy. The article explains that the incidences of teenage pregnancy among the poor are cyclical in their occurrences. For instance, if a female child is born of a teenage mother she is more likely to also become a teenage mother; this creates a cycle that is carried on from generation to generation. This cycle also keeps many in poverty because it is more difficult for teenage mothers to finish their schooling while having to support a child. Planned Parenthood reports that approximate 80% of teenage mothers end up on welfare. The organization also asserts that 75% of all teen mothers are on welfare within five years of giving birth. (Pregnancy & Childbearing among U.S. Teens 2003)
The book Helping Teenagers into Adulthood: A Guide for the Next Generation, confirms all of the previous assertions, explaining that;
As sexual experimentation has become almost a normative practice among some groups of teenagers, the number of unintended pregnancies has skyrocketed. Many of these pregnancies are terminated by abortions. Those young teenagers who go to term in their pregnancy often are characterized as babies having babies. If these girls choose to keep their babies for the rest of their teenage years, their lives as single mothers are usually quite different from those of their peers who have no offspring. The vast majority of teenage mothers have no idea about how much time, energy, and skills are needed to care for an infant. Over half of the single mothers stop their high school education in order to care for their baby and usually do not return to finish school." (Holmes 1995)
As far as the effect of economics on teenage abortions is concerned there is evidence to suggest that there is a correlation between economics and the decision to have an abortion. According to an article entitled, "Preventing Teen Pregnancy Challenge or Illusion," socioeconomic status is one of influencing factors in teenage abortions. The study, conducting with females ages 15-19 asserts that "higher socio-economic status is associated with fewer pregnancies and a higher proportion of abortions. The inverse is true in disadvantaged areas, where more adolescents choose to give birth."(Preventing teen Pregnancy 2003)
Some may find this correlation between socioeconomics and abortion surprising, because it reveals that the teenagers that can least afford to have children are the same teenagers that choose to carry their babies to term. There are several reasons why this phenomenon exist including;
The ability to afford an abortion- abortion can range in price from $300 to $500. Most poor teenagers have no way of acquiring that kind of money. On the contrary, a teenager with a higher socioeconomic status will not have a difficult time acquiring the money needed to obtain an abortion.
Desire and money to go to college- teenagers from a higher socioeconomic status often have the desire and the money to acquire a college education and they know that having a child would make going to college more difficult. On the other hand, teenagers that have a lower socioeconomic status may not feel that going to college is an option because they don't have the money to go or the desire. So then, a poor teenager would opt not to have an abortion because they are not going to be able to go to college anyway. An article in The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, makes this point even clearer by revealing that, many teen mothers come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds (Hoffman, 1993)..."many unmarried teens are having babies as a rational response to prevailing economic conditions - specifically the job market they face." A study analyzing teen pregnancy in England and Wales and the effects of social policy from 1951 to 1992 concluded that education and job opportunities hold more promise for curtailing the birth rate than removal of welfare and housing benefits (Selman, 1994). Leibowitz and colleagues (1986) hypothesized that teens have a high time preference for the present and are less likely to carry a pregnancy to term if they are in high school and earning good grades; Ribar (1994), however, asserts that teen childbearing is an endogenous determinant of high school completion. (Tomal 1999)
Social acceptance- In certain social circles having teenage pregnancy is frowned upon. A teenage girl from of a certain socioeconomic status would be looked down upon if she decided to have a child. However, in more urban settings teenage pregnancy has become an almost "normal" occurrence and many of the adults in the community were they themselves teenage mothers.
Parental guidance- for the most part teenagers that grow up in a higher economic class were not born to teenage parents. In general teenage pregnancy is not as acceptable or as tolerated.
The National Healthy Start Association also suggests that the combination of ethnic background and income also has an impact on teenage pregnancy and abortion rates. The article published by the association asserts that teenage pregnancy rates among black teens decreased in 2003 while the abortion rates for blacks increased. The study asserts that blacks are more likely to get abortions than other minority groups. The article also suggests that increases in the amount of black teens obtaining abortions can be attributed to two factors including: the absence of the Norplant birth control device and the changes in the welfare systems. The article descries these factors in detail explaining that,
Stanley K. Henshaw, a senior fellow at the Institute, offered several possible reasons for an increase in the abortion-to-pregnancy ration among Black teenagers. One is the withdrawal of Norplant, a long-lasting, implanted hormonal contraceptive, after lawsuits over difficulty in removing it. In the early 1990s, Henshaw said, Norplant was particularly popular with Black teenage women who already had one child, a group also more likely to end a pregnancy through abortion. Other reasons, he said, could be changes in the economy and in welfare policy that raised the cost of having a child" (Teen Pregnancy and Abortion Rates Decline 2004) journal article entitled Provider Availability, Race and Abortion Demand, also explains why race and economics have an impact upon abortion rates. This particular study, which was composed of white, black and Hispanic teens, asserts that the location of the abortion clinic can also make it difficult to obtain an abortion. The study asserts that the farther away a teen has to travel to receive an abortion, the less likely they are to get an abortion. The study compared the responsiveness to abortion demand across the different ethnic groups and found that, women of all three races who reside in counties with longer travel distances to an abortion provider are less likely to have an abortion, other factors constant. To compare the responsiveness of abortion demand across race, we calculate elasticities of demand for abortion services with respect to travel cost for each sample. The estimates suggest limited differences in the elasticities across race -- for whites, -0.353; for Hispanics, -0.635; and for blacks, -0.360.  Although demand appears to be inelastic with respect to travel cost for all races, it appears that Hispanics are more sensitive to travel cost than whites or blacks.  However, if we recall that the included variable is travel distance and not cost, an alternative interpretation could be proposed. Specifically, travel may be costlier for Hispanics (in terms of psychic or dollar costs), and any change in distance will have a larger effect on Hispanic women relative to women of other races." (Brown et al., 2001)
In addition to travel distance the study suggests that teens with better employment opportunities are more likely to have abortions. It seems that individuals that have decent jobs are willing to forego motherhood and pursue a career.…