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Teen Pregnancy | What teens and parents need to know.
Teen Pregnancy

  • Abandoning Newborn Babies.  Under Washington State’s 2002 Newborn Safety Act, parents may abandon healthy babies less than 72 hours old (3 days) without being subject to prosecution when the baby is given to an employee or volunteer at a hospital or fire station. The amnesty does not apply when babies are left at churches or other houses of worship.

    SAFE HAVEN LAWS.  Safe Haven Laws prevent young mothers from abandoning newborns in places like dumpsters or bathrooms, where the babies are likely to die.  Washington's 2002 Newborn Safety Act law was designed to keep babies alive and to protect the mothers.  It allows all mothers to take their unwanted babies to a safe place, like a hospital or a fire department.  Many other states also have a Safe Haven Law. 

    A newborn baby nearly died when she was left outside of a fire station in sub-freezing weather for at least an hour, because the infant's mother left her baby outside without notifying the firefighters that her baby was there.  Remember - fire stations are a safe place to leave your newborn baby; however, anyone surrendering a child is asked to alert firefighters and provide health details on the child and parent.  Without alerting the crew is dangerous - at least ring the doorbell, or knock on the door, or make a phone call to alert the crew.  ("Firefighter finds baby left in cold," Caitlin Wilson, KNDO, NBC News, December 31, 2015) 

  • A warning for women of childbearing age.  The CDC states that teens and women ages 15-44 should avoid alcohol unless they are using birth control. Alcohol can harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant.  The CDC estimates more than 3 million women are at risk of exposing a developing fetus to alcohol. This warning is to reduce the cases of fetal alcohol syndrome.    (CBS Morning News, USA Today, February 3, 2016)

  • American teens have the highest birth rate among all developed countries, and their babies are more likely to be born prematurely or underweight than other newborns.  These children also are more likely to be raised in poverty, and more than twice as likely to have an unmarried mother.  (Public Health Seattle & King County) 
  • Teen pregnancy puts a burden on taxpayers.   
“At minimum, the public cost of births to teens17 and younger is $7.6 billion a year…including both the lower taxes that these often impoverished families contribute and the extra social services they require.  

“Teen births do have substantial, widespread negative effects, especially for the children of teen mothers,” said University of Delaware economist Saul Hoffman, who compiled the estimate.

“The children are more likely to be in foster care, less likely to graduate from high school,” he said.  “The daughters are more likely to have teen births themselves, the sons are more likely to be incarcerated.”

There are more than 400,000 teen births annually in the United States, most of them to unmarried mothers on welfare, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.   (“Teen pregnancy puts burden on taxpayers” by David Crary, AP, October 24, 2008, The Spokesman-Review)

  • Spokane teens get pregnant at rates easily outpacing the state average.  The STD rate in Spokane County remains higher than in Washington.  10% of 12th graders say they have had 6 or more sexual partners.  In the city of Spokane, 39 teenage girls age 15-19 got pregnant in 2016 per 1,000, compared to just 24 per 1,000 in the State.  (The Pregnancy Test, by Wilson Criscione, The Inlander, Jan. 18-24, 2018; Spokane Public Schools, Spokane Regional Health District) 

  • Teen pregnancy rate.  In 2015, there were 22.3 births for every 1,000 young women between 15 and 19.  (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) 

  • Morning-After Pill.  A new study on sex among teens finds that easy access and relaxed age restrictions have increased the use of the morning-after pill.  One in 5 sexually active teen-aged girls admits to using the emergency contraceptive, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  That is a dramatic increase from a decade earlier when only 1 in 12 said they used the pill.      ("Morning-After Pill," CDC, CBS This Morning, July 22, 2015)

What You Can Do
  • If you are pregnant and want to talk, call a trusted family member, friend, pastor, counselor, or one of the organizations listed below.   
  • If you are pregnant, and do not want to keep your baby…
    • Talk to a parent, pastor, or your doctor
    • Call an organization which will help you through the pregnancy, after which you can make a final decision whether to keep the baby or not.  
    • Call an adoption agency which will help you prepare to place your baby in a family, should you choose to do so after the delivery.  
    • NEVER discard the fetus or baby.  You can take your baby to a hospital or fire department and leave it there, with no questions asked.  (see the Newborn Safety Act described above)  
  • If you are pregnant and want information about pregnancy, abortion, adoption and unwanted pregnancies, see the topic “Health – Pregnancy” on this website.