Planned Parenthood

July 18, 2006

Despite the perception that most teenaged pregnancies are “accidents,” a British study published today in the BBC suggests that many teenagers plan their pregnancies in lieu of a “dead end job.”

While teen pregnancy rates are dropping in the UK — which boasts the highest number of teen pregnancies in Western Europe — researchers at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that the most of these pregnancies occurred in the impoverished parts of the country where teens thought that having a baby would make them more independent and give them a “loving family.”

Based on interviews with 51 young mothers and fathers aged 13 to 22, the researchers found that the teen parents were not ignorant of how contraception worked, although many did not know that their age group was the most fertile. Up to this point, the British government has tackled teen pregnancy by focusing on unplanned pregnancies. It has ignored teens who actually want babies, the Foundation said.

Many girls talked about their love for babies. One 18-year-old said: “Everybody said I’d make a good mum. I knew exactly what I was doing when I got pregnant.”

Young men often mentioned wanting to provide a “father-figure” for a child — contrary to their experience.

But they were much more likely to regret their decision later.

Suzanne Cater, who wrote the report, said: “Highlighting the fact that not all teenage pregnancies are unplanned will help address support needs currently not being met.

“Using teenagers who wish they had delayed parenthood could also help inform young people who may have potentially unrealistic expectations of parenthood.”

I was so sad when I read this. I can’t fathom how bad these teens’ lives must be to think that having a baby at 14 will help them. So sad.