SC teen birth rate falls to historic lows

jself@thestate.comJanuary 16, 2014 

South Carolina’s teen birth rate has dropped 47 percent in 20 years, reaching an all-time low, said the S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

From 2011 to 2012, the state’s teen birth rate dropped 7 percent to 36.4 births for every 1,000 girls age 15 to 19.

In York County, however, the rate increased from 29.9 in 2011 to 30.9 in 2012. In Lancaster County, it increased from 46.3 to 49.9.

Trudy Laub, executive director of the Palmetto Pregnancy Center, said she hasn’t noticed an uptick in the number of girls visiting any of the center’s three York County locations.

“We see so many young ladies every year,” she said.

Laub said there may be a change in the number of girls choosing to go through with their pregnancies instead of getting an abortion, which would account for increased birth rate in the local area.

The drop is “one of the nation’s and one of our state’s most remarkable and too-often-untold success stories,” said Forrest Alton, executive director of the S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy in a news conference Thursday at the Statehouse.

The drop represents 21,385 fewer teen births over the last 20 years. But the state has more work to do, Alton said.

South Carolina ranks 11th in the nation, and 19 of the state’s 46 counties saw increases in the teen birth rate in 2012 from the previous year, despite the state’s overall rate decreasing.

Only eight South Carolina counties have teen birth rates that are lower than the nation’s.

In both Lancaster and Chester counties, the rate is well above the nationwide rate of 29.4 births for every 1,000 girls.

Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Dorchester, said she hopes a bill she’s co-sponsoring that would update the state’s 25-year-old sex education law will pass this year.

Last year, the bill was met with intense opposition from advocates of an abstinence-only approach to sex education.

The Herald’s Rachel Southmayd contributed

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