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Utah’s teen pregnancy rate has dropped dramatically

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Posted at 5:57 PM, May 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-09 21:26:55-04

SALT LAKE CITY - The Department of Public Health says teen pregnancy rates have dropped dramatically in Utah.

Health officials say both births and abortions among teens have dropped almost 30 percent since 2006.

Utah made a pledge to federal health officials to reduce teen pregnancy, with a goal of drop the rate of girls ages 15 to 19 from 39 to 31 pregnancies for every 1,000 girls. Health officials say they surpassed that goal, lowering the rate to 27 pregnancies per 1,000 girls.

The department credits multiple reasons for the decline, including federal grants that help pay for abstinence-only education programs that also teach personal responsibility like financial discipline and how much a baby can cost. Doctors say teens also have better access to contraceptives.

"I think we have some programs in the state that are working to educate women who want to use contraception post-partum, what the most effective methods are, and get them access to those methods. With cost being an issue for some of them, it's working to try and help women access if they can't help afford them," said Laurie Baksh, with the Utah Dept. of Health's Maternal and Infant Program.

In Utah, the law says a teen can't get a contraceptive without parents being contacted. There are a few exceptions, including Medicaid recipients.