Teen Pregnancy Rate Lower Than Before Roe v. Wade (CHART)

May 6, 2014 1:23 p.m.

The teen pregnancy rate was lower in 2010 than it was before the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that enshrined abortion rights in the Constitution, according to new findings.

A study by the Guttmacher Institute released Monday found that teen pregnancy has “declined dramatically” since a peak in the early 1990s. The pregnancy rate per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 19 was lower than it was before the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

According to the study, in 2010 there were 614,000 pregnancies among teenage women between the ages of 15 and 19. That meant the pregnancy rate for that age group was 57.4 for every 1,000 women. That represents a 51 percent decline from the early ’90s and a 15 percent decline in two years, when, in 2008, the rate was 67.8 pregnancies per 1,000 women in that age group. 2010 is the most recent year the data is available.

In 1990 at the peak there were 116.9 pregnancies per 1,000 women in the 15-19 age group. The rate was 96.1 pregnancies per 1,000 women in 1973 and 95.1 in 1972.

“The decline in the teen pregnancy rate is great news,” Kathryn Kost, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “Other reports had already demonstrated sustained declines in births among teens in the past few years; but now we know that this is due to the fact that fewer teens are becoming pregnant in the first place. It appears that efforts to ensure teens can access the information and contraceptive services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies are paying off.”

The Guttmacher study found that teen pregnancy rates had declined among every ethnic and racial between 1990 and 2010. Among white teens who were not Hispanic, the rate dropped 56 percent, from 86.6 pregnancies per 1,000 women to 37.8. Among black teens, the rate fell 56 percent, from 223.8 pregnancies to 99.5 in that period. For teens that were Hispanic, the rate dropped 51 percent, from 169.7 pregnancies to 83.5 between 1992 and 2010.

The Guttmacher Institute is a not-for-profit organization that promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights. Read the white paper for the study here.

This post was updated.

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