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Abortion Trend Troubles State Teen Activists

July 14, 2008

St. Paul, MN – New numbers from the State Health Department have children's advocates worried: An estimated 2,000 Minnesota teens had abortions last year. Brigid Riley, with the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Parenting, is concerned.

"The report showed that, while the overall number of abortions in Minnesota has gone down, the numbers of abortions that teenagers had in the last year actually went up."

Riley notes the increase was among 18- and 19-year-olds, and it comes despite efforts by health officials to promote alternatives. She says the increase, while small, is still significant.

"This rise in abortions also reflects a rise in the number of sexually active teens, and it reflects a rise in both the rates of sexually-transmitted infections and pregnancy among teenagers. And there's still this constant arguing in our society about what sorts of information young people should get in order to prevent those things."

Prevention is not emphasized enough, Riley warns, and as a result more kids are getting pregnant and dealing with it through abortion.

Riley notes that while it's always difficult to explain changes in the abortion rate, generalizations can be made.

"An obvious reason here is that fewer teenagers who are sexually active are using condoms and contraceptives. We do know a few things about what we need to do to make those more accessible. People are sensitive to the cost of those things, and the costs have gone up. Teens also need to have confidential access to reproductive health services. And, they really need some information about how to use them, in order to use them successfully."

The State Health Department numbers are part of a yearly report available at www.health.state.mn.us.

Jim Wishner/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - MN