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CDC Muddies the Water in its Birth Data Announcements

Contact: Natalie Bell, Concerned Women for America, 202-488-7000 ext. 126


WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 /Christian Newswire/ -- In its simultaneous release of two new birth data reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has both an obfuscation and an error.

Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Director and Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America's (CWA) Beverly LaHaye Institute, says, "When it comes to the CDC's data, the positive facts are sometimes buried under misleading characterizations along with their headline grabbing statement that in 2006, teen birthrates rose for the first time in 14 years."

Crouse explains, "There are two major problems.  First, the announcement accompanying the preliminary 2006 data declares that 10-14-year-olds are the only age group 'whose birth rate did not increase in 2006.'  That sentence obscures the really good news -- that both the number of adolescent births and their birth rate declined substantially.  Instead of the misleading statement that the rate 'did not increase,' the report should have led with the positive news that birth rates among America's youngest teens have declined to a level that is less that half of what it was in 1995."

The second major problem is an error of fact that "all measures of unmarried childbearing rose substantially in 2005."  Crouse reports, "In point of fact, the birth rate for unmarried 15-19-year-olds declined slightly to 34.5 in 2005 from 34.7 per thousand in 2004 -- not a large decline, but a decline nevertheless.  This change in the 15-19-year-old unmarried rate was due to the decline in the unmarried birth rate of early teens, the 15-17-year-old cohort (from 20.1 per thousand in 2004 to 19.7 in 2005).  Only the unmarried rate for 18-19-year-olds increased slightly, rising from 57.7 in 2004 to 58.4 in 2005."

Crouse adds, "Contrary to the slippery verbiage in the CDC announcements, the hard data in the tables show that the unmarried birthrate for 15-17-year-olds declined in 2005 and the overall birthrate for 10-14-year-olds declined in 2006.  It is these ages to which abstinence education is targeted.  The age range where the unmarried birth rate increased was among the older 18-19-year-olds."

Crouse concludes, "One has to wonder why the CDC highlighted the fact that the preliminary data for 2006 indicate increases in births to teens, over 70 percent of which were to 18-19-year-olds." 

Sheri Rendall, CWA's Director of Legislation and Public Policy, says, "The emphasis in CDC's press release is more than a little odd when liberals have voted to spend over $1 billion in federal funding for family planning (including Title X and Medicaid) and at the same time they are working furiously to eliminate the $171.89 million on abstinence programs.  That works out to more than five-to-six times as much being spent on safe sex indoctrination and contraceptives compared to what is being spent on abstinence education.  Abstinence education works, despite liberal spin.  And this report shows it is clearly time to fully reauthorize Title V."

Concerned Women for America is the nation's largest public policy women's organization.