Correlation Between Sex Ed, Teen Pregnancy & Abortions

Sex education remains a controversial topic and a recurring subject that comes up in state legislatures across the country. With the goal of sex education being the prevention or reduction of teen pregnancies, STDs and even abortions, how effective has it been?

First, let’s look at the state of sex education among the states. There are many datapoints by the Guttmacher Institute (see more here). Here are some of the highlights:

  • 22 states in the U.S. mandate sex education
  • 37 states require that information on abstinence be provided. 
  • 25 states require that abstinence be stressed 
  • 12 states require that abstinence simply be covered.

Our Daily Snippet today offers a vital datapoint for this important policy discussion.

Teenagers who received some type of comprehensive sex education were 60 percent less likely to get pregnant or get someone else pregnant.

That according to a study by Pamel Kohler of the University of Washington published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The study also found that these teens were even less likely to engage in vaginal sexual intercourse, though this finding was not statistically significant.

The Guttmacher Institute further found that nationwide the teen birthrate is at an all-time low, attributing the decline to a dramatic shift in the use of contraceptives by teens.

Cynthia Dillard of Guttmacher separately offers a nice analysis about how pregnancy prevention (contraceptive use) reduces the number of abortions. Abortion rates are currently at an all-time low.