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Volume 45, Issue 1 March 2013

U.S. Teen Birth Rate Hits Record Low—What’s Working in Pregnancy Prevention?

President’s Note


ike toadstools after a heavy downpour, another crop of handwringers has sprung up lately. In their counterfactual quest to convince people that population challenges are behind us, authors like Jonathan Last and Joel Kotkin have seized on one bit of information and proceeded to build a shaky edifice chock-full of half-truths and conjecture. They breathlessly claim that U.S. family size has plummeted (!) to a level never seen before. Never, that is, unless you remember the 1970s. Since that fact fails to support their argument, it gets omitted much the way Soviets excised disfavored figures from Kremlin photos. Blissfully free from all constraints imposed by reality, they issue dire warnings about an alleged birth dearth, claiming that “if America wants to continue to lead the world, we need to have more babies.” Yet the merest glance at global figures shows that the weakest, most chaotic places on earth are those with the largest families, while the nations with stable, healthy economies almost always have small families. As the Great Recession wreaked its havoc on the American economy, our family size did drop by about 10 percent. This tends to happen during economic downturns. Many young couples understandably postpone having children when they can’t find good jobs or afford family-friendly homes. It happened during the Great Depression. It happened during the economic slump in the mid-1970s. And it’s happening now. While no one can say what will come next, fertility rates have risen in the past as conditions improved. As a baby boomer, I’m a product of one such resurgence. When we step back and look at the bigger picture, a different view emerges. Globally, we’re adding just as many people each

year as when Paul Ehrlich sounded the population alarm in 1968. Since then, world population has doubled. Africa is mostly a demographic disaster area with unstable nations such as Mali, Niger, and Somalia having total fertility rates of more than six children per woman. The perennial powder keg that is the Middle East has some of the most rapidly growing population centers on earth. Globally, urban areas are projected to triple in size from 2000 to 2030 as rural communities collapse due to population pressures. That’s like having to build six Bostons each week for 30 years. Except they won’t be Bostons. Instead, we’re witnessing an explosion of vast slums as in Africa, where a nearly six-fold increase in urban areas is expected in jam-packed places where raw sewage runs down crude pathways between makeshift shanties. Back home, half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are still unplanned. And, even with progress (documented in this issue of The Reporter) on reducing teen pregnancy, we still have, by far, the worst record of any developed nation. With a current population of 315 million, we’re heading for 400 million people by mid-century. So, don’t count on vanishing traffic congestion and sharp drops in school taxes. Anyone who thinks America is running out of people, be they young, old, or middle-aged, really needs to get out of the house a bit more.

John Seager john@popconnect.org

Help Make the Population College Connection

It’s going to take an extended, concentrated effort to achieve population stabilization. That’s why we need the next generation. We’re already active on more than 200 college campuses, and we’re expanding our outreach. You can help. Just email Lee Polansky at lee@popconnect.org or call her at (202) 974-7702 if you know of opportunities for us to make presentations on any campus across the country. There is never any fee or other cost involved since reaching young people is central to our grassroots mission. The Reporter — March 2013

The Reporter Volume 45, Issue 1 March 2013

Board Chair Marianne Gabel President and CEO John Seager Editor and Designer Marian Starkey Contributors Sarah Brown, Lauren Carlson, Rebecca Harrington, Mark Horlings, Stacie Murphy, Avital Norman Nathman, Shauna Scherer, John Seager, Marian Starkey, Pamela Wasserman Overpopulation threatens the quality of life for people everywhere. Population Connection is the national grassroots population organization that educates young people and advocates progressive action to stabilize world population at a level that can be sustained by earth’s resources. Annual membership includes a one-year subscription to The Reporter. Annual membership, $25. All contributions, bequests and gifts are fully tax-deductible in accordance with current laws. The Reporter (ISSN 0199-0071) Population Connection 2120 L Street, NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20037 (202) 332-2200 (800) 767-1956 (202) 332-2302 fax info@popconnect.org www.PopulationConnection.org www.PopulationEducation.org www.Worldof7Billion.org http://twitter.com/popconnect www.facebook.com/PopulationConnection


Start Spreading the News:

The Remarkable Declines in

Teen Pregnancy and


By Sarah Brown


Teen Motherhood: When

“Reality TV” Doesn’t Fully

Reflect Reality

By Avital Norman Nathman


Editor’s Note


Letters to the Editor


Pop Facts


In the News


The President’s Circle

9 10 26

Book Review: The Malthusian Moment


Field & Outreach

Book Review: The State and the Stork Washington View

30 PopEd

Cover Photo

Zakharova Ievgeniya, Dreamstime.com


32 Cartoon 33

Editorial Excerpts March 2013 — The Reporter


Editor’s Note


y mother is a midwife in coastal Maine, and before that she was an OB/GYN nurse. She has been delivering the babies of teenage girls (and grown women, of course) for most of my life. Still, teen pregnancy and birth was always an abstract idea for me until a friendly girl on my softball team (our league’s best player, in fact) became pregnant in 8th grade. She chose to keep and raise the baby (which my mother delivered). I never again heard anything about her after the birth except that her younger sister, who had been my friend when we were in kindergarten, also became a young mom. The pregnancy of my friend and teammate has haunted me for nearly 20 years. I have often wondered where she ended up in life. Had she kept playing, I’m certain she would have been awarded a college softball scholarship, but, as it happened, I’m not even sure she graduated from high school. Sadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 51 percent of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by age 22. My teammate was raised in poverty by her single mother. Statistics would suggest that she probably raised her own child in poverty as well, and that her child—who is now on the brink of adulthood—is likely to raise another generation of disadvantaged children. According to the CDC, “The children of teenage mothers are more likely to have lower school achievement and drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as a teenager, and face unemployment as a young adult.” In other words, teen pregnancy begets teen pregnancy.

That’s why strong school-based pregnancy-prevention efforts are so crucial for young people—especially those who are at heightened risk of becoming pregnant due to unstable home lives or their inclination toward risky behavior in general. Real sex education that discusses abstinence and birth control helps girls (and their partners) understand their options for avoiding teen pregnancy regardless of whether they decide to become sexually active.

“Report Details Sabotage of Birth Control” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/health/research/15pregnant.html



The Reporter — March 2013

Knowledge about and access to affordable contraception— including emergency contraception—are critical for reducing teen pregnancy and birth rates. So are efforts to empower young women to resist pressure to have sex before they’re ready and to recognize intimate partner violence, which can take the form of birth control sabotage.1 It’s in our national interest to reduce our teen birth rate. And, indeed, the rate has been decreasing for several years now. It hit the lowest rate ever recorded in 2011, the last year for which data are available. If it had remained as high as it was at its peak in 1991, 3.6 million more births—the equivalent of another Connecticut—would have occurred over the past two decades. It is worthy of celebration that so many teens have chosen a different path, allowing themselves to mature into healthy, educated adults before having children. Unfortunately, our teens are still having many more births than their industrialized world counterparts, as you’ll see in the figure in Sarah Brown’s article beginning on page 12. Some states are doing better at preventing teen pregnancy than others— namely those with progressive policies regarding sex education and access to birth control—but our national rate is an embarrassment when compared with other developed countries. It’s time to get serious about preventing teen pregnancy so that girls like my softball teammate have a chance to enjoy their youth, get an education, and secure a satisfying career. Waiting until adulthood to have children is better for parents and their kids, and for society.

Marian Starkey mstarkey@popconnect.org

Letters to the Editor

Send correspo

ndence to mstarkey@popc onnect.org. Letters are also accepted via postal mail. Le tters may be edited for clar ity and length .

Attn: Marian St Population Co


nnection 2120 L St., NW , Ste. 500 Washington, D C 20037

Ronald Lee’s article “Economic Consequences of Population Aging in the U.S.” is superb. However, there is one slight editing problem: the third set of charts on page 20 are not labeled. One has to carefully read the text to guess what it is. The Y axis is undefined. Even more important, it’s not clear that it shows consumption PER PERSON of a certain age (and not, for example, the total consumption across the ENTIRE POPULATION for each age). Lee Erman I loved the issue of The Reporter that focused on population aging and economics and found the two articles specifically focused on population aging and economics interesting and very accessible for people who do not know a lot about either aging or economics. Thank you for this great publication. Donna L. Wagner, Ph.D. Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Professor of Social Work College of Health and Social Services New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico As a 77-year-old who spent 30 years teaching high school, I object to a fundamental assumption that pervades the pages of your December Reporter. That assumption is that it is good and appropriate for the growing number of seniors to continue working and contribute economically to society. My objection is not just that we seniors have earned our retirement or that we contribute to society in other ways, like taking care of grandkids or bailing out our children’s foreclosed homes. My objection is that your assumption does not take into account technological advance, which is tremendously accelerating. This advance means that those of working age should be working fewer hours. By now the standard work week should be 32 hours, or even 20. We have become so efficient that there isn’t that much work that needs to be done to keep us all well supplied and healthy. Isn’t it obvious that if a great many of us work more years, the unemployment rate will be even higher? www.popconnect.org

Furthermore, as we drive our SUVs as fast as we can toward the precipice of ecological collapse, the economy will collapse as well. Perhaps at some point we may realize that simple living is not only ecological and may help to save us from ourselves, but is vastly preferable to filling our lives with all the latest crap. Unless we make some very fundamental ecological changes, we are doomed. So you cannot assume what’s going to happen in terms of the existing paradigm, because the existing paradigm is not sustainable. We are clearly going over the ecological precipice. We have to change or die. How about dealing with that? Don Schuman Bend, Oregon The December Reporter is an excellent issue—I really congratulate you all for devoting an issue to something that SEEMS dry and boring to many people but of course is crucial (and actually intrinsically fascinating). I have to say that I was quite struck that nowhere in the issue appeared mention of the fact that my book highlights more than any other: that for most of the 20th century, a wide variety of American economic-demographic experts argued that the combination of Keynesian state investment and slowing population growth would aid the economy (Bloom’s article simply alludes obliquely to Malthusianism). Indeed, this piece calls rather meekly for social investment in education etc. Fair enough, but if Obama can rather boldly use the term “collective action” in his address, then perhaps population experts can more boldly argue that the state—and not a sheer body count, circa economic theory 1500 AD—should engineer profitability and sustainability. Derek Hoff Author of The State and the Stork March 2013 — The Reporter


h c a e R s e t a R h t r i B U.S. Teen s 0 4 9 1 e h t e c n i S Lowest Level The birth rate for teenagers in 2011 was the lowest recorded in more than seven decades.

70 62.1

Births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19

60 50 40

34.2 31.3

30 down



Teen birth rates declined in all but three states during 2007-2010.

No significant difference Decreased significantly (8-19%) Sixteen largest significant decreases (20-29%)


The Reporter — March 2013

20 1 20 0 11




The number of births to women ages 15-19 dropped 10% from 2010 to 2011, to 329,797— the fewest since 1946. The number of births to teens has fallen by 38% since 1991.

Design by Rebecca Dodelin

down Births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19, by ethnicity



8% 50



40 down



20 10









Non-Hispanic White

Non-Hispanic Black


American Indian or Alaska Native

20% lower than in 2007

24% lower than in 2007

34% lower than in 2007

27% lower than in 2007

down Births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19



60 50 40 30



20 10




The birth rate for girls ages 10-14 remained unchanged between 2010 and 2011 at 0.4 per 1,000.


ages 15-17

ages 18-19

29% lower than in 2007

25% lower than in 2007

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.popconnect.org

March 2013 — The Reporter





Philippines Passes RH Bill After 13 years of debate, the Filipino Congress passed the contentious Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 in December. The bill requires that government-sponsored health centers stock subsidized contraceptives. Birth control is already widely available to those in cities who can afford to buy it at full cost. The bill also mandates the teaching of sex education in public schools. The law went into effect in late January. The bill is condemned by the Catholic Church, but supported by 70 percent of Filipinos—80 percent of whom are Catholic. Half of the 3.4 million pregnancies each year in the Philippines are unintended. A third are aborted illegally.

Ireland to Legalize Abortion to Save Mother’s Life The death of Savita Halappanavar, which we wrote about in the December 2012 issue of The Reporter, has prompted the Irish government to introduce a law to legalize abortion to save the life of the mother, including when the threat of suicide appears legitimate. Hearings are expected soon and a bill is promised by Easter. The bill will be put to a vote by this summer. It will be the first time Irish lawmakers have voted on abortion. Irish voters twice, in 1992 and 2002, voted down a proposal to permit abortion in 6

The Reporter — March 2013

medical emergencies (excluding threats of suicide). A 1983 amendment to the Irish constitution gave fetuses equal rights to pregnant women. Any liberalization of the law beyond the life of the mother stipulation would require overturning that amendment. About 4,000 women travel from Ireland to England to obtain abortions each year.

French Teens to Receive Confidential and Free Birth Control Services Teens between the ages of 15 and 18 will now be able to obtain birth control methods from their family practitioners anonymously—without their parents’ knowledge. The government will reimburse clinics for the consultations and supplies, so the services will be free of charge to the teens.

Hobby Lobby to Defy Contraceptive Mandate The Oklahoma City-based chain of arts and crafts stores refuses to cooperate with the ACA contraceptive mandate. To avoid being fined up to $1.3 million per day that it doesn’t cooperate, the company has shifted its health plan renewal date from January 1 by several months in order to buy time with which to argue against the mandate. The company lost an appeal to the Supreme Court for an injunction in December. Hobby Lobby is owned by a conservative Christian family but it is not a religious organization, which is why it is not exempt from the mandate. Texas Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, proposed a bill in the Texas House that would give businesses like Hobby Lobby a state tax break for the amount paid in fines for non-compliance.

Domino’s Founder Temporarily Exempt from Contraceptive Mandate

New Guidelines for Screening for Reproductive Coercion

Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza, won a court order that allows him to temporarily avoid complying with the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act. He sold Domino’s Pizza in 1998, but still employs people through his Domino’s Farms property management company in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Monaghan is a devout Catholic.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has a new recommendation for OB/GYNs: screen regularly for birth control sabotage and other forms of reproductive coercion, especially among women suspected of being victims of other intimate partner violence.

The federal judge granted him a restraining order because the conflict wouldn’t be resolved by the time the new health plans went into effect on January 1.

Reproductive coercion can take the form of forcing sex, trying to get a woman pregnant against her will, and forcing a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy or end a wanted one.

Among teenage girls with abusive partners, 25 percent report birth control sabotage. According to a 2010 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.8 percent of all women have experienced reproductive coercion. But women are not alone; 8.7 percent of men report having had partners who tried to get pregnant against their wishes or prevented them from using condoms. ACOG recommends that doctors prescribe contraceptives to victims of birth control sabotage that their partners would be unable to detect (e.g. IUD with strings cut, pills in plain packaging).

First New IUD in 12 Years Bayer launched a new IUD, called Skyla, in February. It is the first new IUD to come on the U.S. market in 12 years. The IUD is marketed for women who have not had children, as opposed to ParaGard and Mirena, which are most commonly prescribed for women who have already given birth. This new device is effective for up to three years and contains a lower dose of progestin than Mirena (ParaGard has no progestin).

Researchers Nearly Lose Grant Due to Conservative Pressure Two researchers at North Dakota State University (NDSU) were almost cheated out of a federal grant they won last year. The $1.2 million grant is to be spent implementing and evaluating the results of a sex education program delivered by Planned Parenthood to at-risk teens (homeless, in foster care, or in the juvenile justice system) outside of school. www.popconnect.org

After a public outcry by right-wing lawmakers, the president of NDSU announced on a conservative radio show that the school would block the grant because of the project’s relationship with Planned Parenthood. The state’s attorney general ruled that the program does not violate state law, at which point the NDSU chancellor announced that the researchers could receive the grant after all.

Abducted Baby Draws Attention to Underage Sex in Colombia A 17-day-old baby who was abducted in Bogota, Colombia in January was returned to its mother a week later. The mother is 14 years old and the baby’s father is 27. A government investigation will determine whether the girl was under 14 when she got pregnant, since sex with a girl under 14 is a crime in Colombia. According to 2012 figures, nearly 20 percent of girls in Colombia ages 15–19 have been and/or are pregnant.

Depo Provera Forced on Jewish Ethiopians in Israel Ethiopian immigrants were told they would be unable to enter Israel unless they agreed to receive shots of the contraceptive Depo Provera every three months. Many of them report that they believed the shots were vaccinations and that they didn’t realize the medicine would prevent pregnancy. The shots were given over the past

decade in Ethiopian transit camps run by the Jewish Agency For Israel. During the same time period, the fertility rate of Ethiopian Jews dropped drastically, which prompted an investigative news team to seek an explanation. The controversy came to light in December. Israel’s health ministry issued a statement in January declaring that nobody of Ethiopian descent should be given Depo Provera without explicit consent and a full understanding of the contraceptive effects of the drug. There are more than 120,000 Ethiopian Jews in Israel. They have generally had difficulty assimilating and are not considered truly Jewish by many Israelis.

Morocco to Make “Rape Marriages” Illegal Girls and women who are raped in Morocco are often pushed by their families and judges to marry their rapists, a practice believed to avoid family shame. Rapists can avoid prosecution if they marry their victims, which is considered the kind thing to do in this country where virginity at marriage is of utmost importance. A new law will make the practice illegal. Last year, a 16-year-old girl was raped and then forced to marry her 23-yearold perpetrator. She endured seven months of an abusive relationship before committing suicide by poisoning herself. To read the original articles from which these summaries were taken, see www.popconnect.org/news March 2013 — The Reporter


The Population Connection President’s Circle

Recognizing Donors for Their Generous Contributions of $1,000 or More By Shauna Scherer


incoln and JoAnne Miller have renewed their membership with Population Connection every year, without fail, since 1970. “JoAnne and I were married in 1966,” Lincoln said, “and when we had discussions about family, we thought maybe three kids, maybe four. In 1968, we read The Population Bomb. After reading this book, there was no question about it— we were going to have two children.” They joined the Detroit chapter of ZPG in 1970, and Lincoln became the Vice President. “After our daughter was born in 1970, I had a vasectomy, which was relatively unusual. My family physician advised me against it. Because I was VP of ZPG, I suddenly became the flag bearer to have radio interviews in Detroit. I told them I had recently had a vasectomy and I could still sing baritone! We had a wonderful time in Detroit with ZPG. It was right at the nascent time when the environmental movement was gaining momentum.” Eventually the Millers moved from Detroit to Hillsdale, Michigan. “We wanted to raise our children in a rural setting. We have been practicing environmentalists all our lives, and we thought a rural area would be more in keeping with our lifestyle interests,” Lincoln said. As teachers, the Millers shared their enthusiasm for math and science with gifted children throughout Hillsdale County. “JoAnne and I were instrumental to developing a county-wide response to stimulate young, intellectually sharp kids in a variety of mathematical, scientific, and other types of exploratory


The Reporter — March 2013

courses. We were founding members of a local organization formed by insightful, forward-looking parents who wanted their children to have the kind of stimulation that was not available in the school system. JoAnne was critical to organizational efforts, and I was the developer of eight different summer and after-school courses for kids scoring in the highest percentiles for mathematical problem solving. They came from all over the county for these programs.” “Since 1977, I have developed and taught 14 different programs,” Lincoln said. “In many cases, concept reinforcement was inspired by PopEd. The World Population video and activity guide would be a glowing example.” In 1989, JoAnne and her teaching partner developed an Earth Week thematic unit for the 6th grade, which focused on being responsible citizens of the world today and in the future. “Throughout the week we used PopEd’s lesson plans ‘Food for Thought,’ ‘Earth, the Apple of Our Eye,’ and ‘Population Circle,’” explained JoAnne. “One entire day was devoted to population issues, culminating in

the exciting population, wealth, and food distribution simulation, ‘Food for Thought.’ This activity, more than any other, inspired spirited conversation and breakthrough understanding. Invariably, former students would run into us at school or in the community and ask if we were still doing that stuff. We know it had a positive and lasting impact.” JoAnne and her colleagues presented Earth Week for 18 years, influencing 150 6th graders each year. “Linc and I were so fortunate to be teachers,” JoAnne said. “We were able to influence our students to be wise stewards of their planet.” Lincoln added, “PopEd’s approach was consistent with our own. All of the world’s ecological challenges are exacerbated by excessive human population growth. Without addressing population growth, we cannot get a handle on the other ecological problems we’re facing.” Members like the Millers are the lifeblood of Population Connection, and we are proud to have helped them educate and inspire so many young people throughout their careers. We thank them for faithfully renewing their support of our organization for 43 years.

Book Review: The Malthusian Moment Global Population Growth and the Birth of American Environmentalism By John Seager


he wild success of The Population Bomb is the stuff of publishing legend. Dr. Paul Ehrlich’s slim volume has sold more than 3 million copies since 1968. Actually, the book was co-written by Ehrlich’s wife and colleague, Anne Ehrlich, but the publisher insisted on listing a sole author. The Green Revolution, which boosted crop yields through expanded use of petrochemicals, deferred some of the most draconian outcomes discussed in the book. Paul and Anne Ehrlich continue to make a powerful case that, if anything, The Population Bomb was overly optimistic, given what we’ve since learned about climate change and other global threats. In his highly accessible, yet scholarly book, The Malthusian Moment, Thomas Robertson examines the broad sweep of events which led to Stanford University entomologist Paul Ehrlich becoming the center of national attention and an improbably frequent guest on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. Noting that he comes “neither to bury Paul Ehrlich nor to praise him … but to understand him,” Robertson details concern and alarm about population growth, which began with the late 18th century writings of English cleric Thomas Malthus. The author alludes to influential essays on the natural world by Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold, among others. Intriguingly, Robertson uses population concerns as a way to examine environmentalism through the wider lens of America’s complex, evolving relationships with the world at large. www.popconnect.org

Eschewing the sloganeering that often obscures serious discussion of complex population issues, Robertson illuminates diverse aspects—from the horrific pseudoscience of eugenics, to the challenges of rapid population growth in a world that now adds 1 billion people to its crowded precincts every dozen years. There is considerable merit to Robertson’s notion that, beginning with Malthus, the biological model of human behavior has tended to overshadow the social model. We now know that the human species can sharply modify its reproductive patterns in ways that result in smaller families. In fact, about 80 nations are now at or below replacement rate in terms of family size. So, progress is possible. But there is no contraceptive method to prevent rampant consumerism in a world still growing by some 80 million people annually. Even if the wealthiest billion of us modify lifestyles now powered by fossil fuels, it seems wildly improbable that the other 6 billion (and growing) humans will prove willing to forgo many of the conveniences and contrivances of modern life. For the most part, they want what we have, and who can blame them?

Author: Thomas Robertson, Professor, Worcester Polytechnic Institute Paperback: 256 pages Publisher: Rutgers University Press Published: April 9, 2012

Perhaps green technology along with new ways of thinking about what makes a good life will enable us to avoid carbon catastrophe and wholesale annihilation of ecosystems and species. But, as emissions soar in China and cheap cars add to India’s teeming congestion, that seems perilously close to magical thinking. Population growth remains a defining characteristic of our modern age, alongside high rates of consumption. And denial is the worst strategy of all. March 2013 — The Reporter


Book Review

The State and the Stork The Population Debate and Policy Making in U.S. History By Mark Horlings


erek S. Hoff ’s book, The State and the Stork, traces 200 years of debate about population and, in particular, the ideas of Thomas Malthus. Readers of The Reporter may be especially interested in the book’s discussion of The Population Bomb, ZPG, and the “last gasp of the Zero Population Growth Movement,” which Professor Hoff dates to the late 1970s. Professor Hoff approaches his subject as an academic historian—not surprising for a history professor from Kansas State University. The early history is fascinating. Benjamin Franklin, ahead of his time as always, preceded both Malthus and Darwin in his concern over population growth, writing that there was “no bound to the prolific nature of plants or animals, but what is made by their crowding and interfering with each others [sic] means of subsistence.” Franklin contrasted the abundance of land in the colonies to “fully settled” England and predicted that economic opportunities in the colonies would soon result in a population larger than England’s. Malthus incorporated Franklin’s population projections into his 1798 publication, An Essay on the Principle of Population. John Adams and other Federalists welcomed a larger population because they favored cities and mass manufacturing. Thomas Jefferson feared population growth would threaten his ideal of a Republican agricultural society. He doubted Malthus’ thesis that human populations would tend to famine because population grew exponentially and food supplies only arithmetically. Jefferson argued the “immensity of land” in the United States would allow exponential increases in harvests. Professor Hoff carries his story forward as succeeding American generations confronted Malthus. Malthus was used to justify slavery and to condemn it, to promote territorial expansion and to oppose it, and to encourage immigration and to decry it. The book navigates these debates thoroughly. Readers will learn that population growth was a recurring debate during many significant periods in American history—westward expansion, the Civil War, reconstruction,

industrialization, and the closing of the American frontier. Economic scholars tested Malthus’ theory of natural checks to population during each period. The State and the Stork addresses Malthus and his critics through the prism of economic theory. David Ricardo and John Maynard Keynes get lots of attention—John Muir not so much. The book relates how new generations of economic thinkers tested Malthus: whether an increasing population adds demand, offers economies of scale, decreases savings and investment, or increases per capita income. Some of this can be heavy sledding since the book focuses on economic theory rather than advances in agriculture, industry, or environmental stewardship. Two themes dominate Professor Hoff ’s review of the 20th century. First, the Depression convinced John Maynard Keynes that economies thrive based on consumption. Keynes favored a growing population to ensure demand. Other economists accepted Keynes’ focus on consumption but argued that stable, or even declining, populations could provide the demand necessary to keep economies humming. Second, Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb, and Zero Population Growth (the organization and the social movement) brought new Malthusian limits to the discussion. An environmental perspective added dwindling resources and pollution to food shortages on the list of Malthusian triggers that could “check” population. Environmental collapse as well as famine became potential Malthusian disasters. The State and the Stork tells interesting, forgotten stories well: how Keynes’ followers arrived at a consensus, honoring his insight that consumer demand drives economic growth, while discarding his recommendation for a larger population. And how environmental groups began thinking seriously about population control during the legislative fight for the Wilderness Act of 1964. Professor Hoff recognizes ZPG, Inc. and the broader movement for population stabilization of the late

1960s as something new—radical activists stressing environmental protection more than food supply. He also recognizes that ZPG, Inc. identified high-consuming elites rather than people in poor countries and the American poor as principal contributors to overconsumption. His analysis leads him to conclude that the movement withered because of conflicts with feminism and uncertainty about growth. Was the goal zero economic growth as well as zero population growth, or should economic growth be encouraged in order to speed the demographic transition to low fertility? And how about immigration? The book suggests that these internal disputes weakened the ZPG movement as it existed in its early heyday, and that fierce challenges from “population optimists” brought that era to a close. Professor Hoff reviews conservative ideas favoring population growth—that a larger population allows economies of scale, that human density spurs innovation, and that governments cannot be trusted to make wise decisions about population or much else. These ideas caused the Republican Party and the conservative press to abandon their early agreement that population growth needed attention. The book covers setbacks to an activist agenda administered by the Nixon Administration, reviewers of The Limits to Growth, and Julian Simon in some detail. Disagreements within the Nixon Administration about how to react to “Population and the American Future”—the 1972 report of the Rockefeller Commission—are fleshed out from the Nixon tapes, among other sources. The State and the Stork’s emphasis on intellectual conflict may overlook practical reasons why ZPG, Inc. retreated from the headlines. The U.S. fertility rate dropped to replacement level—2.1 children per woman—in 1973. As a result, www.popconnect.org

many supporters no longer saw urgent need for a pushy, activist, alarmist movement. Also, ZPG, Inc. concentrated its attention on the abortion issue during the early 1970s. When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, the abortion issue was transformed, while remaining highly controversial and under ceaseless assault. The book’s title may mislead since the stork gets more attention than the state. Presidents Adams and Jefferson’s ideas about population may interest us, but they did not impact policymaking. Professor Hoff acknowledges that the U.S. has never adopted population targets, and ZPG, Inc. never called for coercive state action to promote population control. The Kennedy Administration added international family planning to foreign aid; domestic contraception became part the War on Poverty. The book carefully describes the Nixon Administration’s handling of the Rockefeller Commission’s Report, perhaps because it reveals continuing divisions in American thought about population and contraception.

Author: Derek S. Hoff Hardcover: 392 pages Publisher: University Of Chicago Press Published: September 24, 2012

The State and the Stork lays out the history of intellectual consideration of the population issue in fascinating detail. The book might benefit from an approach focused more on environmental concerns and less on economic theorists. However, that is not the book Professor Hoff set out to write. The State and the Stork does a terrific job with its chosen subject—Malthusian thought as one thread of economic theory.

Mark Horlings recently retired as an environmental prosecutor for the State of Arizona. While working as a San Francisco lawyer in 1970, he obtained the 501(c)3 tax exemption for the ZPG Fund, ZPG’s fundraising and educational arm. He served on the Board of the ZPG Fund and as its first executive director. He has also worked for Friends of the Earth and served on the boards of Friends of the Earth Foundation, Earth Island Institute, and the Maricopa Audubon Society.

March 2013 — The Reporter 11

Travis Manley, Dreamstime.com

Start Spreading the News: The Remarkable Declines in Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing

By Sarah Brown, CEO, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy


March 2013 — The Reporter 13

14 The Reporter — March 2013

Norman Pogson, Dreamstime.com


ne of the nation’s great success stories of the past two decades has been the remarkable decline in teen pregnancy and childbearing. Since peaking in the early 1990s, teen pregnancy and birth rates in the United States have been cut nearly in half, there have been impressive declines among all racial/ethnic groups, and notable drops have occurred in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

and 2010, for example, the teen birth rate dropped a full 18 percent.

If you were not aware of this good news, you are not alone.

When The National Campaign was launched in 1996, we set an ambitious goal for the nation: reduce the teen

The nation’s plummeting rate of teen pregnancy and childbearing is the greatest story never told. In a recent national survey of 1,038 adults 18 years and older, just 18 percent correctly said that the teen pregnancy rate had declined over the past two decades. Ironically, it is younger people—those 18-34—who are least likely to believe that this national success story has taken place.

It is important to add that the declining teen birth rate has not been the result of more abortion. The teen birth rate has been declining because fewer teens are getting pregnant in the first place, not because more pregnant teens are electing abortions. All three rates are declining: teen pregnancies, births, and abortions.

Moreover, all racial and ethnic groups have contributed to the progress. For

Table 1

National Teen Birth Rates, 1940-2011 Births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19 120 96.3

100 80


The good news


From 1940 to 1957, the teen birth rate in the U.S. increased almost 80 percent to a record high, but then began dropping until the mid-1980s (see Table 1). At that point, there began a very unsettling—and still somewhat mysterious—increase in the rate. Most people see 1991 as the high water mark for the teen birth rate in recent U.S. history. Indeed, that is when many social policy leaders, demographers, and journalists started referring to the “epidemic” of teen pregnancy, and the search for causes and remedies intensified.


pregnancy rate by one-third over 10 years. Many researchers, practitioners, and those who work directly with youth thought the goal was much too ambitious. Happily, they were wrong. The nation has indeed met and exceeded our goal.

Since that early 1990s peak, there has been an almost uninterrupted decline in both teen pregnancies and births. The teen pregnancy rate has dropped a dramatic 44 percent, and the teen birth rate has declined a stunning 49 percent. If anything, the progress seems to be accelerating in recent years. Between 2007

The progress the nation has made has been both wide and deep. In addition to the dramatic national declines, there has been significant progress at the state level, from California to Vermont (down 57 percent and 54 percent, respectively) and Minnesota to Mississippi (down 40 percent and 36 percent, respectively). In


fact, there were impressive reductions in the teen birth rate in all 50 states between 1991 and 2010. Not all states have seen equally dramatic progress, however—and even in states that have reported large overall declines, selected cities, counties, and/or neighborhoods may still have rates that remain quite high. Although rates of teen pregnancy and parenthood defy easy geographic divisions, the highest rates are clustered in the south and southwest.


50.2 31.3


1940 1943 1946 1949 1952 1955 1958 1961 1964 1967 1970 1973 1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991 1994 1997 2000 2003 2006 2009



example, the pregnancy rate among non-Hispanic black teens decreased 48 percent between 1990 and 2008; the decline for Latinas was 34 percent. The picture is quite similar regarding teen births—the teen birth rate among non-Hispanic black girls decreased 56 percent between 1991 and 2010; the rate for Latina girls dropped 47 percent.

The not-so-good news Despite this impressive progress, rates of early pregnancy and childbearing remain high in comparison to virtually all other developed countries (see Table 2). About March 2013 — The Reporter 15

730,000 teens in the U.S. get pregnant every year; few of them are married, and most report that the pregnancies were unplanned and unintended. In fact, nearly 3 in 10 American girls get pregnant at least once before their 20th birthday. For some groups this chokeon-your-cornflakes statistic is even higher—nearly half (48 percent) of nonHispanic black teen girls and 44 percent of Latinas get pregnant by age 20.

of teen pregnancy and childbearing have declined because of the following magic formula: less sex and more contraception. That is, more teens are delaying sex and more sexually active teens are using contraception. There is no question that both strategies have contributed to the declines, although in the last 10 years or so, the “more contraception” strategy accounts for most of the improvement, whereas in the previous decade, delays in sexual activity played a larger role.

It is worth noting that the rate of unplanned, unintended pregnancy among single young adults has not

Teens are making better decisions about sex, contraception, and when and under

Table 2

Teen Birth Rates: How Does the United States Compare? 4.1 4.9 5.3 5.5 5.9 6.8 8.5 9.1 9.5 10.2 11.6 12.2 14.2 15.3 16.5

Switzerland Japan Netherlands Denmark Sweden Italy (2005) Finland Germany Norway France (2008) Greece Spain Canada (2008) Portugal Australia United Kingdom United States














Births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19, by country, 2009

declined as it has for their younger siblings. While the teen pregnancy rate continues to sink, the overall rate of unplanned, unintended pregnancy has remained roughly unchanged. In 2008, more than half (55 percent) of all unplanned pregnancies occurred to women in their twenties—teens accounted for less than 20 percent.

Why have rates of teen pregnancy and birth declined so dramatically?

What’s behind the good news from the teens? The story is rather simple. Rates 16 The Reporter — March 2013

what circumstances to start a family. But explaining why teens are being more careful is a bit more complicated. There’s no magic bullet explanation, but a few of the leading factors include: More investment in evidence-based programs. There is now persuasive and growing evidence that a number of programs—curriculum-based sex education, youth development, service learning, and others—can delay sexual activity and improve contraceptive use among sexually active teens. Because of the significant variety among these

interventions, communities now have more choices than ever in proven programs that suit local values, opportunities, and budgets. Importantly, through the Health and Human Services (HHS) Teen Pregnancy Prevention program, the federal government currently invests approximately $100 million annually in efforts that have been shown through careful evaluation to change teens’ sexual behavior. An additional $75 million each year is made available through the Personal Responsibility Education Program that seeks to educate teens on the value of delaying sex, the importance of using contraception if they are having sex, and other topics such as healthy relationships, communicating with parents, and financial literacy. More parental involvement. The National Campaign commissions public opinion surveys every year. One of the most consistent findings of the past two decades is a surprise to many parents. That is, teens say that parents—not peers, not partners, not popular culture—most influence their decisions about sex. There is some evidence to suggest that parents are getting the message; that more parents are being more … well … parental. It is critically important that parents talk to their children, early and often, about love, relationships, sex, and contraception and more parents seem to be doing exactly that. More media attention. Most agree that the entertainment media helps shape the social script for teens. Many would go on to say that when it comes to teens’ decisions about sex, the media’s influence is not positive. However, young people themselves make clear that the media can be, and often is, a force for good. Take, for example, the MTV programs 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. Some argue the shows glamorize teen

Oscar Williams, Dreamstime.com

Here are just a few sobering reminders about the challenges of early pregnancy and parenthood: Education. Given the increasing demands in schooling necessary to qualify for a well-paying job, it is more important than ever for teens to finish high school and attain additional education when possible. Yet, overall, only about half (51 percent) of teen mothers get a high school diploma by age 22, compared to 89 percent of women who don’t have a teen birth. Young teen mothers (those who have a child before they turn 18) are even less likely to graduate from high school—fewer than 4 in 10 (38 percent) get a high school diploma; another 19 percent get a GED. Moreover, 30 percent of teen girls who have dropped out of high school cite pregnancy or parenthood as a reason.

pregnancy; some believe the shows are cautionary tales about the challenges of teen pregnancy and parenthood. Although adults who have seen the shows are almost evenly split about whether they are salacious or sobering, teens are decidedly not. The overwhelming majority of those who have seen the shows say they help teens better understand the challenges of pregnancy and parenting, according to a national survey commissioned by The National Campaign. In addition, nearly threequarters of parents of teens say they have talked about sex, love, and relationships with their children because of something they saw in popular media. www.popconnect.org

Why Care? Teen pregnancy is closely linked to a host of other critical social issues: poverty and income, responsible fatherhood, health issues, education, child welfare, and other risky behavior. There are also substantial public costs associated with adolescent childbearing. Simply put, if more children in this country were born to parents who have completed adequate schooling and are committed not only to each other but also to decades of child-rearing, we would see a significant reduction in a host of social problems afflicting children and families in the United States, from school failure and crime to poverty and father absence.

Infant health. Postponing parenthood beyond the teen years can improve child well-being by increasing the odds of a healthy birth. Compared to older mothers, teen mothers are less likely to receive prenatal care, more likely to smoke during pregnancy, and more likely to have babies that are preterm and/or low birth weight. Consequently, infants born to teen mothers are at increased risk of serious ramifications for future development and overall functioning, and are at higher risk of infant mortality. Taxpayer costs. Teen childbearing in the United States cost taxpayers (federal, state, and local) at least $10.9 billion  in 2008 (the most recent data available). Most of the costs of teen childbearing are associated with negative consequences for the children of teen mothers, including increased costs for health care, foster care, and incarceration. Another less direct cost is lost tax revenue associated with reduced education and, consequently, earning and spending among teen mothers and their children. March 2013 — The Reporter 17

Podsolnukh, Dreamstime.com

18 The Reporter — March 2013

Going forward The off-the-charts success the nation has made in preventing teen pregnancy makes clear that progress is possible on difficult social issues. Still, those concerned about preventing teen pregnancy should consider that the early and easy wins have already been won and that what goes down often goes up. Without continued commitment, focus, and investment, teen pregnancy and childbearing could increase again. So what to do? Here are six modest suggestions. Press hard for new solutions. That we live in a rapidly changing, information-overloaded, immediate-access culture is not news. Too often, however, the nation’s efforts to encourage young people to delay pregnancy and parenthood are stuck in the last century—classroom posters in an instant message society. It is incumbent that those concerned with teen pregnancy stay on the cutting edge. Practically, that means reaching teens where they are and in ways that are familiar to them. Ponder this: recent Kaiser Family Foundation research found that young people ages 8-18 spend nearly 45 hours each week consuming media— more time than they are in school and around the dinner table combined. Focus on where the pregnancies occur. If the nation hopes to continue the progress it has made in preventing teen pregnancy, we need to focus more intensely on where the teen pregnancies occur: among 18-19-year-olds. Most of our collective efforts are focused on younger teens when, in fact, fully 70 percent of all births to teens are to those ages 18-19. Needless to say, preventive efforts must begin early in adolescence—that is, the useful curricula, parental guidance, and more—but ground zero is the last two years of teen-dom. And as noted previously, the rate of unplanned pregnancy among single women in their twenties remains stubbornly high—considerably www.popconnect.org

higher than among teens. Simply put, preventing teen and unplanned pregnancy requires a keen attention and a sharp focus on both older teens and single young adults. Continue to invest in what works. As noted previously, there is a growing menu of programs and interventions that have been shown through careful evaluation to change teen sexual behavior and reduce the risk of pregnancy. Policymakers and practitioners should continue to invest in learning more about what works, to expand the number of proven approaches, and to encourage communities to adopt these approaches. Encourage LARC use. When it comes to using contraception, teens (and adults for that matter) are not particularly good at using most methods, even those that are popular. Taking a daily pill, for example, is hard to remember, even for the middle-aged, and any method that requires action in the heat of the moment is usually used imperfectly, at best. By contrast, so-called long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) help young people (and adults, too) simplify all this a great deal. LARCs—particularly the new IUDs and the implant—are remarkably effective at preventing pregnancy, require only one clear decision (to have one inserted), last a long time, and are completely reversible. At present, a growing percentage of young adults and teens are using LARC methods. Continued progress in preventing unplanned pregnancy will be dramatically enhanced if the number of young people using such methods increases. Promote abstinence and contraception. We need to resist the temptation for easy, narrow solutions to a complex problem. We need to press forward on two fronts—encouraging teens to delay sex and encouraging sexually active teens to use contraception consistently and

carefully. The clear majority of adults and teens say they want young people to get more information on both the value of delaying sex and using contraception; not either/or. Despite the often-heated rhetoric of politicians and advocacy groups, most see this two-part approach as complimentary rather than contradictory. Address barriers to access. Cost and access are real barriers to teens using contraception. However, they are not the only issues and, for many young people, may not be the most salient. Four in ten teens agree with the statement, “It doesn’t matter whether you use birth control or not; when it’s your time to get pregnant it will happen.” This is the sexual equivalent of believing in a flat earth. Moreover, even though many teens say they have all the information they need to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, many freely admit that they know little or nothing about condoms and birth control pills, the two most commonly used methods of contraception. Increased information and education to address this “fog” of confusion and misinformation will do a lot to help drive the teen pregnancy rate down further. Guard against complacency. The good news about teen pregnancy may lead to complacency on the part of practitioners and parents and may serve as a green light for policymakers and funders to direct their attention to other issues and initiatives. Resist the temptation to consider the teen pregnancy problem “solved.” When dollars are scarce—and, honestly, money is always scarce—the tendency is to shift investments to the crisis du jour. Remind those who want to move away from investing in preventing teen pregnancy that nearly a third of girls in the United States get pregnant by age 20. Mission not accomplished.

March 2013 — The Reporter 19

Teen Motherhood: When “Reality TV” Doesn’t Fully Reflect Reality By Avital Norman Nathman, Reprinted with permission from RH Reality Check

20 The Reporter — March 2013

Hurricanehank, Dreamstime.com


March 2013 — The Reporter 21

Article Title Article Author

Crystal Kirk, Dreamstime.com Irena Jancauskiene, Dreamstime.com

22 The Reporter — March 2013

Bfphoto, Dreamstime.com


Soon after, Yasmin and her sons moved into her aunt’s apartment. Yasmin began taking courses at The Care Center, joining almost 200 other young mothers who had dropped out of high school. Many of them had not even made it through freshman year. Yasmin’s story is all too common in the city where the center is located. Just east of the Berkshire mountains, Holyoke, Massachusetts, has seen the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state for the past five years, a rate higher than that reflected in national trends. The United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy among developed countries. But, over the last 20 years, it has seen a steady decline in the rates of teen pregnancy and in infants born to teens. Still, the Centers for Disease Control www.popconnect.org

and Prevention (CDC) reports that 30 percent of girls become pregnant before the age of 20. The media has latched on to the idea of the “teen mom,” elevating her to star status—both on reality TV shows and in dramas. Shows like ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Lifetime’s The Pregnancy Pact, and MTV’s 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom focus on teen pregnancy and parenthood. These shows portray teen pregnancy in an unrealistic way that fetishizes and glamorizes it. The stories of the girls I spoke with at The Care Center are much different from the ones shown in halfhour snippets on TV and splashed across tabloid magazines. Kritzia, who gave birth to a daughter at age 18, and took college courses through

the center, said, “The show’s interesting. They go through struggles. But I think we go through more struggles. I mean, they get paid for the show. All of them have cars, all of them have apartments, all of them have ... something.” Most of the center’s students are from Holyoke and nearby cities, an area of Massachusetts where both economic and educational success has eluded many for decades. This region’s population is mostly Latino, a group that consistently experiences the highest rates of teen pregnancy. According to the CDC’s most recent figures, the teen birth rate for Latinas is 49.4 births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19, compared to the national rate of 31.3. Most of these girls also struggle with the seemingly insurmountable challenges of living in poverty. March 2013 — The Reporter 23

Many of these young women want to burst the stereotype that teen mothers are burgeoning “Welfare Queens.” While a few may be on some sort of aid, many are not. The ones who do rely on aid are trying to come off it. In fact, according to researcher Gretchen Sisson, whose work focuses on teen pregnancy and motherhood, teen parents cost less to the state than do any other age group. “There is a misconception about teen mothers and welfare,” Sisson said. “They are not looking for a handout. They are not looking to be a burden.” The girls agree that people view teen motherhood, overall, through a judgmental lens. “I think it’s messed up a lot,” said Jennice, an 18-year-old mother of one. “They think that we’re not going to do anything with ourselves. They think, ‘Oh, their mom is just going to raise her kid.’ But it’s not like that. They just judge us so much.” Rebecca, who dropped out of school in her senior year to give birth to a daughter, agreed. “We’re frowned upon a lot,” she said. “People give us dirty stares.” She recounted a story in which she and some friends were at the mall, and an older woman admonished them for committing “the biggest sin.” Rebecca has a response to these judgments. “There are people that are way older than us,” she said, “that can’t raise their kids or keep a job.” The girls I spoke with expressed anger over how they are perceived. Jennice aired her frustrations: “They judge us upon age, and it’s not like that. I mean it’s not good for a 16-year-old, 15-year-old to have a baby at a young age ... But who sits here and says ‘I’m gonna get pregnant at 16?’ We all think, oh I’m gonna get 24 The Reporter — March 2013

married, or I’m gonna graduate first, go to college and then get married. And nothing ever turns out that way. It’s like sometimes you gotta commit mistakes to do good in life, you know, and maybe that’s what happened to us. We got pregnant, we didn’t want to, but we’re here. We’re at The Care Center, struggling to get our GED, and we’re going to do it.” Sisson, who wrote “Finding a Way to Offer Something More: Reframing Teen Pregnancy Prevention,” in the Journal of Sexuality Research and Social Policy, says that, in most cases, teen mothers do better than do their peers who are not mothers. Sisson’s research shows that among young women who drop out of high school, teen mothers are more likely to complete their GEDs. And in their twenties, they spend more time in the work force than do their peers who are not mothers. Sisson wrote: “By their early thirties, [former teen mothers] are actually a bit ahead of their peers in terms of earning. Any disadvantage they had by getting pregnant is counterbalanced by the fact that they work harder. We know that by talking to them that the one reason they work harder is because they have children.” Despite the instinctual drive to succeed that many of these young mothers possess, they still need help to see their hard work pay off. Organizations like The Care Center have been instrumental in helping them become self-sufficient. Many of these girls deplore the lack of support at their previous schools, even before they became pregnant. “I didn’t even have the idea of going to college until I came here,” Katzia said. “... School never pushed me to go to college. All that crap about No Child Left Behind? They left everybody behind in

my class, I swear. If you passed, it was by luck. I made it all the way to senior year, and I failed the MCAS [Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System], so I couldn’t graduate or whatever. I also failed math class, but nobody ever offered me extra help or anything.” The Care Center also offers child care, transportation, counselors, and nurses. Besides GED preparation, it offers college courses and an array of academic programs far beyond what these girls would have received in high school. The girls can take photography, art, and poetry classes, as well as yoga and rowing. At local Hampshire College, they can try their hand at farming or glass-blowing. They also can take a multidisciplinary college course offered in collaboration with Bard College. The Clemente Course in Humanities, which has been profiled by the New York Times, provides a real-world introductory college environment. The Care Center constantly reminds the girls that they’re worthy of everything the program provides. “Here, it’s like, ‘do good, try new things.’ They let you know you’re smart,” said Jennice. These young women have high hopes for the future. Kritzia wants to be a phlebotomist. Rebecca has wanted to be a social worker since she was a young girl. Yasmin wants to become a pediatric nurse. Jennice has her sights set on becoming a medical examiner who performs autopsies. Before entering The Care Center, many of the girls had no idea where they would end up. Yasmin joked that she would probably end up behind the counter at McDonald’s. The other girls nod and laugh, but there’s a somber realization that Yasmin’s joke is not far from the truth.

Tracy Hornbrook, Dreamstime.com


March 2013 — The Reporter 25

Washington View

Everything Old is New Again: Same Battles Set to Consume 113th Congress By Stacie Murphy


hen the new Congress was gaveled into session in January, it immediately made history. The 113th Congress has a record number of women—20 in the Senate and 81 in the House. Unfortunately, the balance of power between pro- and anti-family planning forces remains unchanged. Supporters of family planning hold a strong majority in the Senate, while opponents have a commanding margin in the House. That means that we are probably going to have to refight many of the battles of the last year all over again.

In the House: A Competition to See Who Hates Women’s Health Care Providers More

A mere two days into the new Congress, one of those old battles was reignited. In a rush to demonstrate their anti-family planning bona fides, Tennessee Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black separately introduced identical legislation to bar Title X (ten) funding to Planned Parenthood clinics—and any other organization that provides legal abortion. The bill was originally proposed by former Rep. (and current Governor) Mike Pence (R-IN) and spurred the movement of state bills across the country to ban Planned Parenthood from participating in public family planning programs. 26 The Reporter — March 2013

Perhaps in recognition of the political damage done by the “no exceptions even for rape victims” abortion rhetoric of the last year, both representatives chose to amend the bill’s original language to include exceptions for rape, incest, and to protect the life of the pregnant woman.

In the Senate: The Champions Step Forward

In late January, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) reintroduced the Global Democracy Promotion Act (S. 119), a bill to bar a future president from unilaterally reinstating the Global Gag Rule. It currently has seven co-sponsors. We expect Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) to reintroduce the bill in the House in the next few weeks. We will be making a strong push to gain co-sponsors in both the House and Senate, since that is one of the most important ways for members to show their support, as well as an opportunity for new members to signal where they stand on our issues.

The Battle Over Birth Control Rages On

At the end of January, the Obama Administration announced further details of a proposed accommodation for religious employers who object to the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act. While the requirement went into effect for secular businesses this

past August, some religiously affiliated non-profit agencies were granted a oneyear delay. Under the new plan, those employers will still not have to offer their workers birth control coverage. Instead, their insurance companies will reach out to individual employees to offer them totally separate, individual insurance policies that only cover birth control. These policies will have no premium payment and will be administered separately from the employer-provided coverage. Unsurprisingly, many of the groups who objected to the original attempt at accommodation were still not satisfied. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has renewed their call for the entire mandate to be scrapped. Additionally, since secular, for-profit businesses may not claim the exemption or the accommodation, there are still multiple lawsuits pending. The mixed judgments rendered in these suits so far mean that the birth control coverage requirement may end up before the Supreme Court.

The Helms Amendment and the Misuse of American Law

Since 1973, the Helms Amendment has provided strict limitations on the circumstances in which U.S. funds can be used for abortion care overseas. The Amendment states that it is not permissible to use U.S. funding for abortion “as

a method of family planning.” The inclusion of that language clearly indicates that there are circumstances where such funding is allowed. Yet, for decades the U.S. government has treated the Amendment as a blanket ban. The result is that all around the world, women in the most desperate circumstances—those who have been raped and those whose lives are endangered by their pregnancies—cannot count on help from clinics that receive U.S. funding. It doesn’t have to be that way. President Obama has the authority to direct USAID to bring Helms in line with other U.S. policies, which usually have (at the least) rape, incest, and life of the mother exceptions. The Helms Amendment should be repealed in its entirety. It is a relic of domestic abortion politics, which are completely divorced from the reality of the lives faced by women in the developing world. Sadly, though, it is difficult to envision the outright repeal of the Helms Amendment in the current political climate. The misinterpretation of Helms, however, is fixable without the intervention of Congress. We don’t need a new law; we just need the Obama Administration to clarify what the current law actually says. www.popconnect.org

We are calling on the Administration to make this important change. It would be a real step forward in our ability to help women around the world.

The Budget Battle Goes Meta Under normal circumstances, much of this column would have been dedicated to the budget process and its implications for our international family planning programs. This year, however, everything is on hold. On March 1, large, automatic budget cuts went into effect, as part of the process of “sequestration,” which was negotiated during the fight over raising the debt ceiling in 2011. The belief at the time was that the fear of large automatic cuts aimed at popular parts of the budget (including the military and many social programs) would force legislators to come to some sort of agreement over longer-term deficit and tax questions. Obviously, it didn’t work. Questions about funding levels for specific programs have been totally lost in the larger fight over long-term budget deficits and revenue levels. Put quite bluntly: no one has any idea what is going to happen. There may be an agreement in the next few weeks and the normal budget process might resume

on an accelerated schedule. Or the fight may drag on for months more. One thing is clear: as long as sequestration continues, the most vulnerable people will suffer. Cuts to the Title X domestic family planning program will likely cause clinics to close, hours of service to be cut, and struggling families to lose access to contraceptives and basic reproductive health care. And our investment in family planning could be slashed by more than $32 million. Based on an analysis of the impact of our family planning programs overseas by the Guttmacher Institute, a cut of this magnitude could result in: • 1.68 million women denied access to contraceptives; • 485,000 additional unintended pregnancies; • 226,000 additional abortions (of which 162,000 would be unsafe); • 1,292 maternal deaths; and, • 6,460 children losing their mothers. It is clear that in the power struggle over the budget, the very real consequences to vulnerable people—both here in the U.S. and around the world—are being ignored.

March 2013 — The Reporter 27

Field & Outreach

Lauren Cutright: Social Worker in Training, Community Activist By Rebecca Harrington


auren Cutright remembers being startled at Capitol Hill Days 2012 when she first heard about Population Connection’s “billion dollar ask” for international family planning assistance. It sounded like a very large amount of money to her at the time. As the weekend progressed, however, she learned that $1 billion is not a very big slice of the federal budget. Lauren describes her experience at Capitol Hill Days as “eye-opening.” Lauren will graduate from Seattle University (SU) this spring with departmental honors from the social work program and is waiting on admission to the University of Washington’s Graduate School of Social Work. She plans to pursue a career in social work policy so that she can work on social issues at the macro level, as “policy drives direct service and is the vehicle for enacting change.” Her participation on the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Legislative Action Committee has “fueled her passion” for social work, as has her strong involvement in community outreach and advocacy activities. Lauren represents all Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) students in the state as the NASW Washington State BSW Student Representative. She is also the co-president of the SU Social Work

28 The Reporter — March 2013

Club. The Club has been busy coordinating a number of social and humanitarian events over the past year. They recruited students to participate in One Night Count, a volunteer event to survey Seattle’s homeless population, sponsored by the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. They also organized a clothing drive to benefit homeless youth living at the Seattle shelter Youth Care. Drawing on her experience at Capitol Hill Days, Lauren recently participated in the NASW Washington state lobby day, which took place on February 18. She recruited 12 of her social work classmates to spend a day at the state capital in Olympia to meet with various Seattle legislators about several bills relevant to their work. The Seattle University contingent was part of a larger group of 200 NASW advocates from all over the state of Washington. The students advocated on behalf of several pieces of legislation, including SB 5163, a bill that would make social work licensing requirements for certain employees of Child Protective Services more stringent; HB 1336/SB 5365, which would enforce regulations for suicide prevention training and the development of suicide prevention protocol for school employees; and HB 1516/SB 5433, a dental care bill that would increase availability of routine and preventative dental care to those in

Washington state who lack dental insurance coverage. “We all live in this world, and are all connected—and we need to help advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves, to make the world a better place.” At Capitol Hill Days, Lauren learned about population issues and how access to family planning can improve the lives of millions of women and children across the developing world and right here in the United States. Lauren is deeply committed to political involvement, and plans to continue her civic engagement post-graduation. She feels frustrated when people complain about problems but don’t take the initiative to do something constructive, like contact their legislators. As a passionate advocate who believes that people should take advantage of the opportunity for political participation that we’re afforded in this country, it troubles her that many people don’t participate in grassroots advocacy, despite having strong opinions on certain issues. In an effort to engage her classmates in the type of social justice activism that she believes is so important to making real and lasting change, Lauren and her fellow SU Social Work Club members co-sponsored—along with Population

Connection—a campus viewing of the documentary Mother: Caring for 7 Billion. The enthusiastic crowd of students who attended were eager to talk about the impacts of population growth and to sign up for Capitol Hill Days in April. Lauren was very pleased with the outcome of this joint event. She noticed throughout the evening that things began to click for students, and remembers watching a friend’s face “light up” during the discussion. Extending beyond her graduate school aspirations, Lauren would like to turn her passion for policy into legislative work, perhaps working for one of the larger social service agencies. Ultimately, she’d like to run for office. We look forward to working with Lauren as she continues to evolve as a social worker and advocate.

Chelsea Smith, Lauren Cutright, Anna Wilson, and Mattie Bess at Capitol Hill Days 2012. Photo by Jonathan Look, Jr., Journeyman Images

CaPiTol hill daYs 2013 Population Connection’s annual Capitol Hill Days advocacy and lobby training event will be held in Washington, D.C. from April 5-9, 2013. We are expecting over 100 advocates to attend and have already registered many students, activists, and Population Connection members from Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington State. The weekend will feature presentations by experts in the fields of family planning, maternal health, and environmental protection. Capitol Hill Days is the largest population-focused advocacy event to gather grassroots activists together in support of greater investment in international family planning. Find more information at www.popconnect.org/CHD2013 or email Rebecca Harrington, National Field Director, at rharrington@popconnect.org. www.popconnect.org

March 2013 — The Reporter 29

Florida Zoo Educator Picked as MVT PopEd

By Lauren Carlson


or her exemplary work as a volunteer workshop facilitator for the past decade, the Population Education program has selected Terri Clark as the 2013 Most Valuable Trainer (MVT)! Terri is the Community Resource Manager at Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Sanford, Florida. She conducts teacher workshops for surrounding school districts and creates zoo programs implementing state education standards. Terri has held leadership positions with many local environmental groups and is a member of several state and national zoo-related organizations. Since 2002, Terri has facilitated over 50 PopEd workshops. I had the opportunity to interview Terri about her Population Education work.

I conducted my first workshop at the University of Central Florida and that was all it took. My strong interest in the topic took over and now 10 years and 56 workshops later, I’m still excited about teaching this awesome workshop. I began incorporating activities into the Zoo programs as soon as I went through training. They were such a natural fit into the lesson plans we were teaching at the Zoo; lessons about carrying capacity, natural resources, and space were easily explained using Population Connection activities like “Panther Hunt,” “Earth: The Apple of our Eye,” and “Mining for Chocolate.” The kids really like being able to actively participate in the process. We, as teachers, can foster a deeper understanding with hands-on concepts.

When did you begin using Population Connection materials?

What are some specific qualities that you love about Population Connection materials?

In June 2002, the Zoo received a mailing from Population Connection, advertising that they would be holding a free training session in Tampa. I was already teaching several teacher workshops for the Zoo, so this topic was a welcomed addition. There is a natural connection between animals and human population. Loss of habitat due to an increase in human population is one of the main reasons for the decline of many species. 30 The Reporter — March 2013

As we are all aware, teachers don’t make large salaries and usually spend their own money on school supplies. I like to point out to the participants that the materials being used during the activities are all designed to be simple, at no cost, or very little cost, to the teacher. They really appreciate that we are aware of this issue.

What is your favorite lesson to facilitate and why?

I have lived in Florida for 50+ years.

I’m pre-Disney. The growth Florida has experienced since the arrival of Disney has been unprecedented. Sharing ways we can all ease Florida’s and the earth’s resources is important to me. That’s why “Who Polluted the River?” is my favorite activity. It allows me the opportunity to discuss Florida’s limited water supplies and how we will be drinking the St. Johns River as our “back up” plan when/if the aquifer runs dry. That simple statement really opens their eyes as the participants pollute the “river” (a bowl of water) one by one, doing their everyday activities. They dump dirt and leaves (construction), soapy water (car wash), antifreeze, yellow food coloring

(sewage), vinegar (factory pollution), and baking soda (fertilizer) into the bowl. It looks filthy by the end!

Do you have a favorite audience you like to facilitate?

At the Zoo, I teach environmental education to elementary students. When I first started the population workshops, teaching adults made me a little nervous, but that quickly changed. I liked that the adult audience challenged me to learn a great deal about the subject matter.

Any memorable experience as a trainer that you’d like to share? Any tips?

Keep it simple and fun! You never really know who you are influencing. When talking with one of the college professors, we discovered her son and his family lived in my neighborhood. A couple of weeks later, she called to ask if she could bring her grandson over to borrow some population materials for a school project he was working on. The three of us sat down in my dining room and discussed all sorts of population facts. He returned my materials a week later and also brought his paper sporting a big A+. The teacher’s comment was “This was a fascinating paper to read. I had no idea!” Now isn’t that what we as trainers are all about? Getting the word out! www.popconnect.org

PopEd Debuts New K-5 Curriculum By Pamela Wasserman Counting on People: K-5 Activities for Global Citizenship, PopEd’s new elementary curriculum, is now available. The eight units on the CD include new lessons, plus enhancements to our most beloved classics. This collection of 40 interdisciplinary, hands-on activities connects students to the world around them, while building their math, literacy, technology, and critical thinking skills. At the same time, students will explore the fundamentals of human geography and ecology, including how populations grow and use resources, the importance of wildlife and healthy ecosystems, and how we can all work toward a sustainable planet where everyone’s needs are met. The activities are designed for the core curriculum in K-5 math, language arts, social studies, and science, and employ a variety of learning styles. In addition to the activities, the CD includes service learning ideas for community awareness and change, recommended children’s literature and multimedia tools, links to online resources for teachers and students, technology and arts applications for the classroom, and matches to the new Common Core State Standards. Counting on People will be distributed in our elementary-level workshops and is for sale for $10 at www.PopulationEducation.org. Made possible by the Erik E. and Edith H. Bergstrom Foundation.

March 2013 — The Reporter 31


Used with the permission of Nick Anderson, the Washington Post Writers Group, and the Cartoonist Group. All rights reserved.

32 The Reporter — March 2013

Editorial Excerpts

Lexington, Kentucky

Gulfport, Mississippi

The vast majority of Kentucky parents say they rarely, if ever, talk with their teens about birth control. Sensibly enough, this silent majority also says schools should teach teens about how to protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Years of taking a “just say no” approach to underage sexual activity has given Mississippi the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the nation.

The disadvantages of teen pregnancy are huge. Teen mothers are significantly poorer and remain under-educated. Their children are more likely to drop out of school, have health problems, be incarcerated or unemployed and give birth as teenagers. Happily for all, Kentucky’s young people are getting the message. Teen births in Kentucky fell almost 21 percent from 2008 to 2011. Kentucky still has a higher teen birth rate than the U.S. which dwarfs the rest of the industrialized world in teens having children. One thing sex educators can count on is parents’ support, according to a survey last summer of 1,006 Kentucky parents and guardians of children under 18 sponsored by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. While only 21 percent of parents said they regularly talk to their teens about birth control, 87 percent of parents favored teaching about birth control and 75 percent favored teaching about gender and sexual orientation issues in high schools.

It is an “epidemic,” as Gov. Phil Bryant declared in his first state of the state address in January, and Mississippians, he said, “must boldly confront” it. Since then, the governor has toured the state promoting abstinence as a remedy to teen pregnancy, a message little different from the state’s traditional, and failed, approach to the problem. While we commend the governor for making teen pregnancy a priority, we regret that he has been timid to employ the bestknown tool to try to fix it: “evidence-based, age-appropriate and medically accurate” instruction in the state’s public schools. Instead, Bryant clings to the notion that abstinence-only sex education will help him reach his goal of reducing teen pregnancy by 15 percent by 2017. It is time for Gov. Bryant and the Legislature to say “no” to the “just say no” approach anywhere in Mississippi. —December 11, 2012

—January 6, 2013


March 2013 — The Reporter 33

Population Connection 2120 L Street, NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20037


Your legacy...people and the planet in balance

Have you considered leaving a legacy gift ensuring that your commitment to zero population growth continues well into the future? By remembering Population Connection in your will or estate plan, you can make a meaningful contribution to stabilizing population and improving the quality of life for everyone, everywhere. We also offer charitable gift annuities, which provide guaranteed life income and significant tax advantages. We are proud to honor our legacy donors as members of The ZPG Society. For more information, please contact Shauna Scherer, Director of Development, at sscherer@popconnect.org or (202) 974-7730. Population Connection members Katharine and Julian Donahue, visiting Iguazu Falls in Brazil.

If you’ve already included Zero Population Growth (ZPG) in your estate plans, there is no need to change any language. We proudly maintain the name and the mission.

34 The Reporter — March 2013

Profile for Marian Starkey

The Reporter, March 2013  

Teen pregnancy

The Reporter, March 2013  

Teen pregnancy