Teen pregnancy is becoming a huge issue as birth rates once again rise and as the percentages of first births to unmarried mothers increases after a hiatus between 1991 and 2006. An op-ed piece by June Carbone of University of Missouri-Kansas City and Naomi Cahn of George Washington University, both family law professors, was published in STLtoday.com on September 5, 2008. It's well worth reading by family lawyers counseling their clients and also by parents.
According to Carbone and Cahn, there are many ways to help teen mothers. They say that Bristol Palin's pregnancy illustrates that there are many areas in which the red/blue voters agree on issues related to teen pregnancy divide could be reduced.
No one in the blue states wants a teen mother to have an abortion if she opposes it. Carbone and Cahn argue that parents should be able to agree to teach our daughters about the simple biological facts of pregnancy. They believe that it is essential to provide comprehensive sex education that stresses the advantages of abstinence and delaying sex until the couple is sufficiently mature, but also explains how to protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease if one does have sex. Given the increased incidence of teen pregnancy and the escalating prevalence of HPV - a cause of over 99% of HPV cervical cancer - it seems essential to teach teens about protection. Clearly abstinence isn't working.
Carbone and Cahn believe that we should be able to agree on promoting adoption as an alternative for mothers to consider. They also stress that we should be able to agree on providing high-quality childcare to those single mothers who choose to continue their education instead of entering into shotgun marriages. While parents like the Palins may have the resources to provide financial security for their daughter's future, for most of the rest of the population, teen pregnancies and teen marriage secure only
cycles of poverty.
The full piece is available here. [Last visited 9/14/2008]
SOURCE: The Family Law Prof Blog For more on Teen pregnancy and HPV, see these archives.