More Teen Births in Religious States

Photo courtesy US Department of Health and Human Services

Whis is this not a surprise? The states with the strongest conservative religious beliefs also tend to have the highest rates of teen pregnancies and births. This according to a new paper forthcoming in Reproductive Health.

I posted a blog on a similar story a while back about religious teens having more abortions.

Live Science reports that this little piece of paradox is likely due to the fact that communities with high religiosity frown upon contraception as well as sex education. The combination is as good as a euphemism for pregnancy.

The top 10 states for conservative religious beliefs:

  1. Mississippi
  2. Alabama
  3. South Carolina
  4. Tennessee
  5. Louisiana
  6. Utah
  7. Arkansas
  8. North Carolina
  9. Kentucky
  10. Oklahoma

The top 10 states for teen births:

  1. Mississippi
  2. New Mexico
  3. Texas
  4. Arkansas
  5. Arizona
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Nevada
  8. Tennessee
  9. Kentucky
  10. Georgia

Researcher Joseph Strayhorn of Drexel University College of Medicine and University of Pittsburgh speculates: “We conjecture that religious communities in the U.S. are more successful in discouraging the use of contraception among their teenagers than they are in discouraging sexual intercourse itself.”

‘Cause nobody can do that. Ask Bristol Palin.



Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation so we can keep on doing the type of journalism that 2018 demands.

Donate Now
  • Julia Whitty is the environmental correspondent for Mother Jones. Her latest book is Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean. For more of her stories, click here.