Adrianna Rodriguez and Jayne O'Donnell, USA Today, July 10, 2020
Overall teenage birthrates have fallen across the country, but women’s health care providers are concerned about the sharp disparities between white teenagers and teenagers of color.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report Friday that found U.S. birthrates for women ages 15 to 19 declined in 38 states, 7% across the entire country in 2018. While white teenagers saw a significant decline in 29 states, Hispanic and Black teenagers saw a decline in only 10 states.
Stacey Stewart, CEO of the March of Dimes, attributes the disparities to similar factors that caused COVID-19 to hit Black and Hispanic communities so hard.
“Black and brown adults aren’t treated equitably throughout our institutions, we can’t expect their children to be,” Stewart said.
Some of the myriad factors that contribute to the disparities in teen birthrates include state policies and politics, limited access to birth control among communities of color and mistrust of the health care system due to the country’s history of abuse and bias, according to women’s health experts.
The only state that saw a significant increase in teen birthrates is South Carolina, particularly among Black women.
Dr. Paul Browne, medical director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Lexington Medical Center in South Carolina, said strict laws surrounding sex education and abortion, as well as other state specific policies regarding Medicaid, make it harder to prevent teen pregnancy and birth.