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UK "Repeat" Abortion Rate for Teens Increases: What Does It Mean and What Can We Do?

Originally written for The Guardian, condensed version can be seen there.

In 2008, over 5,000 UK women under the age of 20 had an abortion that was not their first. As was made clear by the alarmist headlines following the publication of those numbers, this is a big concern for the public.

A woman’s reproductive life often spans 30+ years. Around 1/2 of all pregnancies in the US and UK are unplanned. Contraception isn’t used or used properly. It fails sometimes even in perfect use. Female fertility peaks between the ages of 19 and 24: the reason we tend to see the most abortions (and pregnancies) in that group is because it is the most fertile group having the most sex. (Piccinino, LJ, Mosher, WD. Trends in contraceptive method use in the United States: 1982-1994. 1998. Family Planning Perspectives. Vol. 30(1): 4-10 & 6, Table 1) The UK teen pregnancy rate is the highest in Western Europe: six times higher than the Netherlands, nearly three times higher than France and more than twice

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Do You Have Any Children? A Birthmother Speaks to the Personal & the Political

"Do you have any children…?" It’s such a typical question to ask someone, and for many it’s an easy yes or no answer. For me though, I consistently find myself hesitating to respond. Generally when speaking to strangers, casual acquaintances, and even new friends, I opt to answer “no.” On occasion, I brave the consequences and answer the truth: “Yes, I’m a birthmother.”

Birthmotherhood

When I gave birth, options were discussed with me regarding what to do about the baby. For me, there seemed no choice but adoption. I was now 17. The thought of raising a child was an impossibility. I wanted to finish high school. I wanted to go to college. I wanted to have fun. I wanted to hang out with my friends. I just wanted to continue to be a teenager.

A Common Condom Misunderstanding

I get the impression that some, if not many of of our users think that condom failure rates are the same as condom breakage/slippage rates. In other words, think that when we explain that in typical use, condoms are 85% effective, that means that 15% of condoms break.

It doesn't: that is NOT what those rates mean. I hate for anyone to be presuming it is and to panic about a potential pregnancy via condom use because of that misunderstanding.

When we say condoms are effective 98% of the time in perfect use, that means that 2% of women using condoms (or, 2 out of every 100) as a sole method perfectly -- as in, following all the directions, including proper storage of condoms -- each year become pregnant. When we say they are 85% effective in typical use -- the way most people use them, which includes storing them incorrectly, putting them on wrong or too late or not using them at all -- that means 15% of women using them that way become pregnant in one year. People often forget that ty

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Why Childbirth Ed is Sex Ed

Sex leads to pregnancy leads to childbirth.

This, of course, is a huge oversimplification. It is possible to have lots of satisfying sex that doesn’t lead to pregnancy because a penis never goes into a vagina. It is possible to have chemical or mechanical problems of the reproductive system that make it impossible or unlikely for penis-in-vagina sex to produce pregnancy. People can also have penis-in-vagina sex while using any of a number of chemical, mechanical or physiological methods to prevent pregnancy (contraception).

But, penis-in-vagina sex has been until very recently in human history the only way to make more humans, and it is only recently that it has been as simple (and difficult) as taking a medicine to prevent pregnancy.

When pregnancy occurs as a result of sex, it may not necessarily lead to childbirth. Genetically abnormal embryos often spontaneously abort, and one pregnancy out of five will end spontaneously before halfway through the pregnancy (20 weeks). Many women

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Why I Escort

I am a volunteer abortion clinic escort. This means I am there to walk with women coming into the abortion clinic. It's usually no more than a minute's walk from their cars to the front door of the clinic. Under normal circumstances, my help would hardly be needed. Except the circumstances outside an abortion clinic are rarely "normal."

Welcome to the 6th Feminist Carnival!

We're pleased to host the 6th edition (oops, make that the 8th!) of the newly reborn Feminist Carnival! In the spirit of rebirth, and in alignment with the readers and mission of Scarleteen, this round puts it's focus on young feminist bloggers and feminist issues particularly pertinent to younger women.

The F-Word & The Myth of the Invisible Young Feminist

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I Guess You Just Have to Be Prepared to Die!

That's the verbatim response to the question "What if I want to have sex before I get married?" in "No Second Chance," a film that is part of Sex Respect, an abstinence-only program. Sex Respect has a host of other special and oh-so-factual messages for you in their student workbook, including such sparkly gems as:

"A young man's natural desire for sex is already strong due to testosterone...females are becoming culturally conditioned to fantasize about sex as well." (p. 11) Did you know that without cultural conditioning, women don't have any desire for sex? Of course you did. Did you know that women don't have any testosterone in our bodies, too? Note: neither of these things are true. But you knew that already.

"A guy who wants to respect girls is distracted by sexy clothes and remembers her for one thing. Is it fair that guys are turned on by their senses and women by their hearts?" (p. 94) So, when it comes to sex, men don't have emotions and women do

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Is birth control safe? Are certain brands best?

Gwenaly asks:

I've been wondering if using birth control is safe? And is there a certain brand of birth control that I can use that will be the best to use?

How do I tell my boyfriend I don't think he's ready for sex yet?

erohwaremac asks:

My boyfriend and I have been going out for over five months now. In an emotional sense, we're a perfect couple. We love and respect each other, and get along incredibly. However, I am his first real girlfriend. I'm only the third girl he's ever kissed and done other things with. We "fool around" such as we make out, he feels me up and fingers me, and I go down on him, etc. However, I have essentially taught him everything he knows. He is a virgin. I am not. He tells me he is ready for sex, but despite the fact that I love and think the world of him, I know that he is not. Biologically he is raring to go, but emotionally he is not. I don't really know how to tell him this. I know it won't compromise the relationship, but I just don't want him to feel like I think of him any less. I just want his first time to be special and wonderful. And the only way I can let that happen is if he is totally emotionally ready. Deep down, he agrees with me, but his hormones are getting the better of him. I don't want to deny him, but at the same time I don't want to hurt him either. What do you suggest?

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