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U.S. Has Highest Rate of Teen Pregnancies Among the Most Developed Nations

Chicago, IL — In recognition of the eighth annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (May 6, 2009), Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) today called for public funding of comprehensive, medically accurate sex education programs to reduce the alarming rate of unintended teen pregnancies in this country.

“Teens deserve honest, accurate, age-appropriate information about how to protect themselves,” said Steve Trombley, PPIL President & CEO. “They need sex education that provides information about healthy communication, responsible decision making, as well as abstinence and contraception as ways to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.”

The U.S. teen birthrate increased for the second year in a row, according to data released in March by the National Center for Health Statistics. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports the U.S. has the highest rates of teen pregnancy among comparable countries. An estimated 750,000 American teens become pregnant each year. Approximately 37,000 of these teens are from Illinois.

“The reality is that by their 18th birthday, six in 10 teenage women and more than five in 10 teenage men have had sex,” explained Trombley. “That is why PPIL is constantly working towards providing Illinois teens with the information and services they need to make healthy decisions. Our peer education program in particular has played an integral part in helping us achieve our goal of preventing unintended pregnancy and disease through comprehensive sexual health education.”

Through PPIL’s prevention-focused peer education program, teens between the ages of 14 and 18 are given the opportunity to work as paid educators for PPIL to educate other teens, parents and community members about making healthy decisions. Currently, PPIL’s 52 peer educators reach over 15,000 young people and adults with medically accurate sex education each year.

Providing teens and young people with the information they need to make responsible decisions is the commonsense solution to reducing unintended teen pregnancy. According to the Guttmacher Institute, comprehensive programs that provide information about both abstinence and contraception can help delay the onset of sexual activity among teens, reduce their number of sexual partners and increase contraceptive use when they become sexually active. Conversely, abstinence-only education may keep teens from using contraception, leading to an increase in unintended pregnancies and STIs.

In Illinois, nearly 40 percent of students who learn sexual health education in schools are taught an abstinence-only curriculum. For this reason, PPIL is working with a broad-based coalition to pass the Reproductive Health and Access Act in Springfield that will require public schools to teach age appropriate, medically accurate, comprehensive sexual health education classes. Under this act, parents would be allowed to remove their children from classes if they do not want them to participate.

Planned Parenthood is a 2009 national partner of the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, an effort to help teens understand the importance of avoiding unintended pregnancy. For more information, please visit The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.


Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) provides affordably priced high-quality reproductive health care services to women and families throughout Illinois. Through health care services, educational programs and advocacy efforts, PPIL works to ensure and protect the reproductive rights of each individual. For more information, visit www.ppil.org.


Planned Parenthood of Illinois


Beth Kanter
Planned Parenthood of Illinois
312.592.6829 (office)
773.551.7044 (cell)


May 06, 2009