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September 18, 2013

Teen birth rate hits all-time low

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

Or maybe it's just that in 2008, the mere existence of Bristol Palin showed that conservatives didn't even believe their own story about abstinence-only as an effective teen pregnancy prevention tool. It's hard to sell kids on the idea to avoid contraception when the results of that advice are on stage at the Republican convention.

Indeed, it's important not to overlook the role that sex education plays in all this. As Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress points out, teen birth rates vary wildly by state, with conservative states having a higher rate. The state of California is perhaps the most stunning example of how swiftly things can change, going from more than 70 births per 1,000 girls to 28 since 1991, in no small part because of aggressive sex education and family planning programs. Teens simply do better if they're given the tools to stay safe when they do have sex and don't do as well with the "just say no" message.

Marcotte is a journalist, opinion writer, and author of two books on progressive politics.

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