Jezebel has hit the mark again with this light-hearted article on a serious topic:
‘Abortion Capital of the World’ Curiously Less Abort-y After Women Go on the Pill.
The Georgian abortion rates cited in the above article are staggering: an average of three abortions per woman! I can’t imagine going through that procedure even once, let alone three times. But it shows that women no longer accept their ancient role as baby factories, now that they have a choice. If they don’t have easy access to contraception, they are willing to undergo a morally problematic procedure, several times, if that’s what it takes to avoid the horror of giving birth to one unwanted child after another. The abortion rates in Georgia plummeted after contraception became more easily accessible, which is no surprise.
The situation in Finland is very different to that in Georgia. In 2008, 8.9 abortions per 1000 women aged 15-49 were made in Finland, according to wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_Finland
Other sources cited the same figures so I suppose they’re reliable. The abortion rate in Finland is fairly small compared to the Georgian rates, or the 19.6 abortion per 1000 women in the USA in 2008: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/213375.php
Alarmingly, USA also has the highest teen birth rates in the developed world, with 53 births per 1000 girls aged 15-19. In Finland, it is less than 10 births per 1000 girls in that same age group. Here’s a the source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epidemiology_of_teenage_pregnancy
Here’s a picture, though data from Africa, China and parts of South-America seem to be missing.
It doesn’t take Captain Obvious to tell us that the outdated attitudes towards contraception go a long way in explaining why there are so many teen births in the USA compared to other developed countries. Abortions don’t explain the smaller teen birth rates in other developed countries because Finland, for example, has both low abortion rate and low teen birth rate.
Our success in preventing teen pregnancies is due to readily available contraception and information. The religious approach of trying to prevent sex rather than preventing pregnancies and STDs is not popular in Finland, and the results speak for themselves. We educate kids about sex and sexuality in schools starting from the age of 11. We have found that education results in kids having their first sexual encounters later in their lives, despite the conservative fears that knowledge would lead to premature lewdness.
It seems that when kids are equipped with knowledge about sex, sexuality, pregnancy and STDs, they make wiser choices than they would without reliable knowledge. Who would have thought! It’s also important that contraceptives are easily accessible to teens. Schools hand out condoms as parts of sex education campaigns and school nurses have bowls of condoms in their waiting rooms, where teens can go and grab as many as they like. Parents are also encouraged to have condoms available at the house, where teens can take them without feeling ashamed about it.
The message we send to our teens is that their sex life is their business. No one can tell them when they are ready to have sex, they have to figure it out for themselves. If they decide they are ready for sex, they know they must also take care of preventing STDs and unplanned pregnancies. They’re doing a pretty good job of it, so we must have taken some right turns along the way to get to this point.
It must be unpleasant for the religious conservatives, but restricting access to contraceptives, withholding information about sex and sexuality, demonising sex and shaming girls who have it does not appear to guard teens against too early sexual experiments and pregnancies. Likewise, the same approach does not prevent adults from having unwanted pregnancies. Contraceptives prevent unwanted pregnancies.