Teen Birth Rate Higher in Religious States


A new study suggests that conservatively religious states tend to have the highest rates of teenagers giving birth. Experts say this is because religious communities are more successful in discouraging teens from using contraception that they are in discouraging them from having sex.

So which state has the highest rate of teen births?

The top 10 states with highest teen birth rates are as follows

  1. Mississippi
  2. New Mexico
  3. Texas
  4. Arkansas
  5. Arizona
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Nevada
  8. Tennessee
  9. Kentucky
  10. Georgia

The following list is the top 10 most conservatively religious states (as determined by the percentage of respondents who agreed with conservative responses to eight statements including, "Scripture should be taken literally, word for word."):

  1. Mississippi
  2. Alabama
  3. South Carolina
  4. Tennessee
  5. Louisiana
  6. Utah
  7. Arkansas
  8. North Carolina
  9. Kentucky
  10. Oklahoma

Some may find the results of the study surprising because so many conservative religious groups teach teens about sex from an abstinence-only viewpoint. In fact, critics of abstinence-only curricula (versus a safe-sex curricula) will likely use this study as evidence that religious organizations and communities are not doing all they can to reduce and prevent unwanted teenage pregnancy.

(Interestingly enough, the study says nothing about that fact that the marriage rate among teenagers is also a lot higher in many of these states, which might help to further explain the link between religion and birth rate.)

Is your state on one of these lists? Does it make sense that the most religious states would have the highest rates of teens giving birth?


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toria... toriandgrace

Maybe they should look at the abortion rates in the liberal, less religious states? Perhaps, the BIRTH rates are higher because the pro-life, christians aren't having abortions?

izzys... izzysmomma2008

tori, I was about to say the exact same thing!!!

mommy... mommyheymommy

The two lists of most religious and most teen births don't even correspond, but for a few states???  I'm confused.

Cafe Kim Cafe Kim

That's an excellent point, toriandgrace. The study found that that abortions WERE higher in less religious states. But the researchers accounted for abortion rates in their findings and still determined that conservatively religious states still had higher birth rates.

NooYawka NooYawka

How about:  "Teens in Highly Religious States Less Likely to Add Sin to Sin"?

I would tend to think that religious individuals are less likely to choose abortion once pregnant. And that is why the teen birth rates are higher among religious individuals - because those babies aren't being killed in the womb.

The actual study, of course, "don't say anything about cause and effect", but that doesn't stop the scientists from forming their own conclusions

Another lens: religious persons tend to accept consequences for actions with hope that the future can and will be bright in God's providence.  

It's not just, "we don't do abortion 'round here;" it's, "we value life." It's not, "I made a mistake, don't force me to be punished with a baby;" it's, "I made a mistake, and will go forward with what it means in every way," or even, "I made a mistake, and thank God that He will bring such good out of it."

The very last paragraph of the story mentions the fact that these states also have higher rates of teenage marriage, so at least some of these pregnant teenagers are married women.  The researcher states that he does not think early marriage explains the pregnancy rates, but does not explain why he believes that.  


Steel... SteeleMommasita

my state is on the 1st list but not the 2nd.  NM has the highest rates because teen pregnancy really isn't frowned upon. But we are a democratic state so not at all high on the conservative side.  My county is actually the only conservative county...i think.  But though we are pretty liberal abortion is not applauded either.  Most teen moms have and raise their babies.

ethan... ethans_momma06

Iw ould say that while it looks as if you could draw a correlation between the two, it would be innacurrate which you can see looking at the data itself. Nevada, which has a high teen pregnancy rate, is not particularly religious. Now, if all top ten were correlated then I would say that maybe they were on to something....

1chloe 1chloe

I also agree with Tori.  The study should take into account all teen birth rates, which includes abortions.  My thoughts are that the BIRTH rates are higher  in the religious states, because  pro-life christians aren't having abortions.  God never makes mistakes, only man.

Mickey37 Mickey37

I was about to say the same thing as the first poster so it's good to see this was as obvious to others as me!

thisb... thisbattymom

The data is skewed. First I have to ask the motivation behind the study, because it sounds like someone wanted to make a point & tipped the scales in favor of proving their point.

I lived in Ms, and got pregnant there. In certain areas it is not only not frowned upon to get pg as a teen... but I encountered *many* girls who had been trying to get pregnant as a teen & were jealous of my pregnancy. At least, in the school I attended, it was a social status point to be a teen mom.

Besides that, Abortions are not as convenient (or socially acceptable) in concervative "religious" areas/states. So, for example, there may not even be a clinic availible. As of 2006, groups were working to shut down the only abortion clinic in Ms (also in Jackson).

Plus, you have to take into account the community dynamics. In religious communities there is little privacy in these matters... and a lot more accountability than you might find in more 'progressive' communities. People pull together to support one of their own so birth rates are going to be higher than abortion rates where the girls get more support. There is also more social stigma to those who dare to have an abortion (and let anyone know)... so they are likely to travel across state lines if they take that route.

Just some things to think about. :)

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