Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Family Planning Perspectives
Volume 29, Number 6, November/December 1997

Rural Adolescent Pregnancy: A View from the South

By Trude Bennett, Julia DeClerque Skatrud, Priscilla Guild, Frank Loda and Lorraine V. Klerman

An analysis of 1990 census and vital statistics data for eight Southeastern states revealed that the teenage birthrate generally was higher in rural than in metropolitan areas; the exception was among black women aged 15-17. The highest birthrate was 162 births per 1,000 among rural black women aged 18-19. Abortion rates were much lower for rural teenagers than for urban teenagers, regardless of race. For 15-17-year-olds, white women had an abortion rate of 12 abortions per 1,000 in rural counties and 18 per 1,000 in metropolitan counties; black women had rates of 13 per 1,000 and 30 per 1,000 in rural and metropolitan areas, respectively. Similarly, the abortion ratio was lower in rural than in urban areas; for example, 18% of rural white women aged 18-19 who became pregnant had an abortion, compared with 35% of their metropolitan counterparts. Black 15-17-year-olds in metropolitan areas had a higher pregnancy rate (106 per 1,000) than those in rural counties (87 per 1,000). The pregnancy rate of white women aged 15-17 was similar in rural and metropolitan areas (about 46 per 1,000). Among rural women aged 18-19, 32% of births to whites and 45% of those to blacks resulted from a second or higher order pregnancy.

(Family Planning Perspectives, 29:256-260 & 267, 1997)

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