In comparison with other western developed or industrialized countries, the United States of America has been established by various researchers and scholars to be the leading in teen pregnancy. Despite the fact that the teen pregnancies have been declining over years, various reports according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the U.S. still has a higher rate of teen pregnancies than any other developed country (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). This statistics emphasizes on the need of taking teen pregnancy as a matter of great concern that needs to be addressed with urgency it deserves. This is because teen pregnancies present some serious socio-economic negative effects and other challenges not only to the teens but also to the state in general. Teen pregnancies increase rates of school drop outs, increase in number of abortions as well as increase in health care costs.
Furthermore, research shows that a majority of those who are incarcerated in the United States are children belonging to teen parents, this therefore means that the federal government ends up using a lot of money collected through tax revenues to gather for teens and their children instead of using the collected revenue for other economic activities (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). This clearly shows that teens are not always ready and prepared enough in terms of their level of development and also financially to bring a child to the world and raise her/him successfully. Despite the fact that the rates of teen pregnancies were higher in the early years of 1960s it was justifiable because many women were then being married at a younger age and as a result they could get children before attaining the age of 20 year. Unlike in the past years of 1960s and more so before 1980s, most of the present day adolescents (80%) who turn out to be pregnant are not yet married (Teen Help, 2015). Furthermore, according to teen help statistics more than 80% of teenage pregnancies are normally unplanned and thus a majority end up being aborted. Higher teenage pregnancy is therefore directly linked to higher abortion rates in the United States of America than other industrialized countries such as Canada, France and Germany.
A debate of providing easier access to contraceptives to teenagers is a topic that has been bounced back and forth for many years. Although the U.S. statistics for live births to teenage mothers between the ages of 15-19 years old has gone down 11% in 2012 and 47% from the year 1991 when the birth rate of teenage mothers began to first decline (Martin, Hamilton, Osterman, Curtin, & Mathews, 2015, p. 4). There are a number of reasons that can be linked to the above declines, those reasons however may not be so clear. Generally, the decline can be attributed to a majority of teens being less sexually active while those teens who are sexually active are aware of and use various birth control measures which include contraceptives currently more than in the past years. Yet there was still a recorded 273,105 teenagers that gave birth in 2013. With such large number of teenagers giving birth at such a young age there is still room for change and to continue to decline the annual statistics. With that being said the focus will now be on taking a look at every angle possible and perceptively viewing the benefits of allowing teenagers throughout the U.S. to have easier access to contraceptive because of the many benefits and its effectiveness in reducing teen pregnancies. Hence, teenagers throughout the United States should therefore have an easy access to contraceptives.
Use of contraceptives to prevent teenage pregnancies is an evidence-based prevention measure whose results can easily be established and determined by the number of new teen pregnancies being reported. Ultimately, a decline in teen pregnancies will be recorded if teens are allowed to easily access and use contraceptives. Some religious organizations as well as individual parents will view the use of contraceptives by teens as a way of encouraging immorality, however that should not be the case because we are all well aware that teens engage in sexual activities as evident by the higher number of teen pregnancies recorded annually in the United States and therefore we should find a solution to the problem at hand which is reducing unplanned teen pregnancies. Teen pregnancy reduction can be achieved if sexually active teens are helped by their parents, religious organizations and various institutions which include the government to make well informed, good and healthy choices on matters to do with sex and relationships. One of such healthy choice is to use birth control measures that are readily available through effective use of contraceptives such as birth control pills, the IUD, use of condoms and also a wide range of birth control measures that can be injected into their bodies so as to avoid early unplanned pregnancies.
There are many health dangers and risks that are associated with teen pregnancies not only to the teens but also to their children who are due to be borne. Considering the level of their development both emotionally, physically and psychologically, they are placed at a greater risk of encountering pregnancy related complications such as high blood pressure (U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2014). This is made worse by the fact that teens who are soon to be teen moms often do not get prenatal care services early enough during their pregnancy period, they are less likely to receive adequate prenatal care which include weight assessment, blood pressure, and blood work. This therefore leads to problems that occur later at different pregnancy period and also had child birth that could have be prevented if the teens had attended prenatal clinics and care early enough and regularly. Furthermore, another trouble associated with teen pregnancies is that the majority of teenagers are not ready to care for a child; their babies will likely be born with low birth weight and are predisposed to a variety of illnesses (Eden, 2015).
In addition, medical risk and complication that often affect teenage mothers is a condition known as preeclampsia. This complication is mainly associated with high blood pressure as such teenage mothers are predisposed to becoming anemic (Eden, 2015). The main reason for this affecting teenage mothers and not the case for women who become mothers at an older age is that older mothers often get more attention and prenatal care, while teenage mothers in most cases receive very little or in some cases do not get any prenatal care services. Child birth for teenage mothers is also a bit complicated since pelvic bones are not fully developed before the age of 18 years. Due to this, giving birth normally through the vaginal delivery may not be possible and as such cesarean section delivery is more common in teenage mothers who are aged below the age of 20 years than older mothers.
Another sad reality about teenage pregnancies is that mothers who get their babies at their teenage age more than often lose their babies because they normally die within the first year after birth unlike babies who are born by older mothers who are aged 20 years and above. This is largely attributed to the fact that teenage mothers are not well informed during their pregnancy period on the importance of eating a well balanced nutritious diet reach in vitamins and other iron supplements so that cases of iron and vitamin deficiencies are reduced. As a result of not eating appropriately during their pregnancy period, teenage mothers normally give birth to babies with low birth weight, this further increases the risk of the newly born baby becoming sick and in severe cases they end up dying (Eden, 2015).
The reasons highlighted above on teenage pregnancy together with the fact that teenagers may not have lots of support from family and friends in order to have a healthy pregnancy and come to terms with the new responsibilities associated with pregnancy and motherhood often makes life difficult for teenagers who become mothers at a very young age. It is therefore imperative that such teenagers be allowed to access contraceptives easily such that they can avoid or rather prevent teenage pregnancies and reduce the suffering they would undergo for being teenage mothers.
Other than the highlighted health effects of early teenage pregnancies on teenage mothers and their babies, teenage pregnancies also cause serious economic challenges. A pregnancy will automatically bring on an unexpected economic hardship for the two young parents to be and their families. The social and economic costs associated with teen pregnancies are both short-term and long-term. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is evident that teen pregnancies as well as their accompanied childbirths increases significantly the costs of healthcare and also foster care to teen mothers and their children. In 2010 alone, an estimated 9.4 billion dollars revenue collected from tax payments from the citizens of the United States was used to provide healthcare services to teen mothers and their babies, this amount is quite a lot of money that could have otherwise been used for other development projects that benefit the tax payers if cases of teenage pregnancies were low (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).
Additionally, teenage pregnancies are one of the leading causes of school drop outs among teenage girls at high school level. Teenage mothers who got their babies at a young age rarely get a high school diploma save for only a few (approximately 50%) as compared to more than 90% of other women who never got pregnant during their puberty, got their high school diploma by the age of 22 years. This trend of increased rates of school dropout among teenage girls means that they do not achieve the minimum educational requirements that enable an individual to get employed. As a result, most teenage mothers remain unemployed thus cannot get an income to gather for their own needs as well as those of their children hence remaining poor and largely dependent on public assistance unlike other women who did not get pregnant at their teen age. The government also loses revenue that could have been collected as tax because of the increased number of teenage mothers who are unemployed. The government will also incur a lot of costs due to teen pregnancy because a majority (approximately 80%) of teenage mothers who are normally unmarried and unemployed end up being placed under welfare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid (Teen Help, 2015). Moreover, children who are raised by teenage mothers tend to generally perform poorly in school, have higher chances of dropping out of school and also at a greater risk of ending up being imprisoned during adolescent stage of his or her life, getting babies at a young age and finally ending up not getting employment. This therefore makes the circle of poverty and its effects among teen parents endless.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a report released in 2013, it costs on average approximately more than $245,340 to raise a child from birth until he/she attains the age of 18 years. This translates the cost of raising a child to approximately $12,000 per year (Thomas, 2014). This figure is quite high and teenage mothers and fathers cannot afford to raise such amount of money considering the fact that they are unemployed. These economic hardships of providing for a child tend to force teenagers to take drastic action in solving their current situation. Such actions may include procuring an abortion which in itself is risk, and also resorting to drugs and other substance abuse.
On abortion and teenagers as stated by the Teen Pregnancy Statistics web page it mentions that currently, 24 of every 1,000 teens have an abortion. This means that over 200,000 teens get an abortion every year. The number of abortions by teenagers has been established to be directly proportional to teen pregnancies which are unplanned. Therefore, compared to other countries in Western Europe and Canada, the United States of America records the highest number of abortions in a year (Teen Pregnancy Statistics, 2009). Although many of abortions are normally carried out by teens who get unwanted and unplanned pregnancies, in some cases abortion is done to terminate a pregnancy that’s a threat to the health and wellbeing of the mother.
Other scenarios that make abortion necessary is when one gets pregnant as a result of an incest or rape case. Statistics show that chances of a teen becoming pregnant if they have unprotected sex are very high (90%) in a given year. It has also been established that more than 50% of teens will at least have sex once before they are through with high school level. Of all the teen who get pregnant, more than a third ask for an abortion (Teen Pregnancy Statistics, 2009). In all the 50 states in America abortion is legal, however procuring an abortion and especially in teenagers often presents a numbers of complications and side effects.
Some complications include infections to and impairment of reproductive organs, excessive bleeding as well as negative psychological and emotional reactions. Emotional side effects associated with teenage abortion include shame or feeling guilt, regret, anxiety, sleep disorders that include experiencing nightmares, depression and in some extreme cases teen may be faced with suicidal thoughts especially if abortion is considered immoral or unethical in a community or religion the teen comes from (Teen Pregnancy Statistics, 2009). Teenager may feel like there is no other option but to follow through with an abortion even if it is against their beliefs, however this will later come to haunt the teen due to the guilt and shame of engaging in an immoral act.
Concerning religion, teen pregnancy and birth rates there tends to be a correlation between the teenager’s religious beliefs and her action of when leads to a pregnancy. In U.S, states which are considered to be highly religious records lower abortion rates, however they also record high teen birth rates (Peck, 2009). It can therefore be concluded that the high birth rates is due to the fact that religious communities do not encourage the use of contraceptives but instead are against their uses by teens. Furthermore, religious communities are against abortion thus the lower rates recorded in states that have religious index.
Religious communities are very vocal in advocating against the use of contraceptives among the teens and so far have been so successful in this; however they do not effectively discourage sexual intercourse among the teens (Pregnant Teen Help, 2012). The fact that they do not approve the use of contraceptives makes them not educate teens on their use thus the high rates of teen pregnancies and births (Peck, 2009). Teens do not wish to go against their religion and beliefs and become pregnant on purpose but become pregnant given that they engage in unprotected sex because they are never thought by their parents and religious leaders on how to effectively use contraceptives so as to avoid pregnancy.
As such, this is a valuable topic to the nursing professional which cannot be ignored. Through the research, we have seen that a large percentage of teenagers drop of school to look after their babies or other look for manual work to feed their babies.
These dropouts decrease the number of professionals in the country including nursing. It is common knowledge that nursing profession is experiencing acute shortage of staff. Thus, losing a large number of teens to birth related cases is increasing the shortage even further. Additionally, abortion complications and infections increase the work loaded to already to exhausted health practitioners workforce. This increase put pressure on the nursing professionals who have to give special care to teenagers who are extremely traumatized by the abortion or birth related complication cases. The teenagers are new mothers; they don’t have skills like breastfeeding. Thus, a nurse has to take a lot of time educating the teenage parents on how to look after their babies. This time which could have been saved by contraceptives could be used to give care to other patients who need urgent care or patients in the end life who need constant attention. Also one important thing to note is that a lot of money used by the federal government of the United States of America to gather for teen mothers and their babies through various social programs could have been saved if contraceptives were accessible to teens. That money could then be used to employ more nurses, improve their working conditions as well as give them better pay.
Increased rates of school dropouts caused by teenage pregnancies have a long term negative impact on the general well being of many U.S. citizens’ in terms of their health. This is basically because when teenagers drop out of school their chances of ever getting employed are greatly reduced. As a result of failure to get gainful employment, such teenagers will not have enough income or money to seek better quality healthcare services for themselves as well as for their children. This could in turn lead to reduced life expectancy due to poverty and lack of financial capacity to seek quality heath care services from qualified healthcare practitioners.
In conclusion, with the view of the above explained reasons as to why teen pregnancies are still higher in the United States as compared to other industrialized countries of the world together with the various short-term and long-term challenges that teen pregnancies present to teen mothers, their children and state in general, I therefore consider it relevant that teenagers throughout the U.S. should have easy access to contraceptives. In providing contraceptives to teenagers, a continued recordable drop in teenage mother births throughout the U.S. will be realized.
It’s the duty of many multiple players ranging from the teens themselves, their parents, religious institutions and their leaders as well as the sate through various relevant departments to ensure contraceptives are made easily accessible to youths and are used effectively so as to reduce teenage pregnancies. However, it should be known that there will always be parents that no matter what the benefit it reflects they will not consent to their teenagers being on contraceptives. Some teenagers may also purposefully choose to not be on contraceptives. It is important however that, before closing off to the idea that young teenagers are having babies we should first take a step back and reminisce on the actions we are capable of and act upon them so as to reduce teen pregnancies to minimum low.
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