It’s easy to understand why New York City schools are handing out morning-after pills to teenage girls. Although teenage pregnancy and birth rates are declining nationally, teenage girls still give birth to hundreds of thousands of babies a year. To be precise, they gave birth to 367,678 in 2010 alone, according to the CDC. This map shows the birth rate among girls aged 15 to 19 by state. And it clearly shows that more conservative states have higher rates of teenage births.
In states such as Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, 1 out of 20 teenage girls gives birth every year. Using the most recent Census data on teenage populations, Arkansas has the highest rate, at 56 births per 1,000 teenage girls.
It’s no surprise that red states have higher rates. Many of them, including the seven states with the highest rates, do not require schools to teach contraception. Some states do not require sex education at all. Other states that do have sex education require teachers to stress abstinence and advise children to wait until marriage. Studies have concluded time and time again that abstinence-only curricula are not as effective at reducing teen pregnancies and births.