According to the CDC, the United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy of all countries in the western world. This means that despite the fact that both world class education and contraceptives exist, the United States as a whole is unwilling to either make these accessible or take advantage of the resources it has access to. This can be due to economic or religious reasons, but at the end of the day the facts still stand: the United States has more teenage girls who are pregnant every single year than any other westernized country in the entire world.
Also according to the CDC, pregnancy contributes to a significant number of cases in which teen girls drop out of school, with only 50 percent of teen mothers getting a high school diploma by the age of 22. Many students by the age of 22 have already received a bachelor’s degree and are looking into their first job or graduate school. The story is not the same for young women who become pregnant. With only half of these young women having a high school diploma by 22, these women are more than likely not going to college or choosing to do so later in life. While this has academic consequences for the mother, this can also have academic consequences for a child they choose to have. According to the CDC, women who become pregnant and give birth as teenagers are more likely to have children who grow up to become incarcerated, drop out of high school and to become pregnant teens who drop out of school as well. This creates a vicious cycle of teen pregnancy cross-generationally and can work whole families into deep holes in terms of education and poverty.
There can also be great health risks that come with being pregnant as a teenager. According to Smith College, women who are teen parents run a greater risk of having prolonged labor as well as death as a result of delivering a child. Other complications involved with pregnancy include high blood pressure, anemia, hypertension and problems such as depression and anxiety during and after childbirth. While these could happen to anyone and do happen to adult women who have children, the risks of these complications increase exponentially the younger you are.
There are so many issues that could arise because of teen pregnancy and we need to pay attention to it. This isn’t an issue just because a girl gets pregnant and that might significantly change her life. According to the CDC, in 2010, U.S. taxpayers collectively paid 9.4 billion dollars in taxes as a result of teen pregnancy. These costs included money for children who have to go into foster care as a result of teen pregnancy, healthcare costs for teen mothers who are unable to cover these costs themselves and for children who eventually end up incarcerated. This means that every time we ignore teen pregnancy, we work to pay for that mistake. Even if you believe that young women who get pregnant should deal with that themselves, you end up literally paying for their child, their mistakes and their child’s mistakes because of a lack of willingness to help them.
Teen pregnancy doesn’t just affect mothers and their children. It doesn’t just affect the mother’s family. It affects all people. This is a problem for all people and we should solve it collectively.