The Politics of Pregnancy: Adolescent Sexuality and Public Policy

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Annette Lawson, Deborah L. Rhode
Yale University Press, 1995 - Social Science - 348 pages
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Teenage pregnancy is widely viewed as a significant social problem. This path-breaking book argues that much of the problem stems from simplistic or inaccurate perceptions of what the problem is. Is it pregnancy in the teen years? Adolescent childbirth? Childbirth to teenagers outside marriage? Adolescent sexual activity? Commentators in this volume believe that the problem is not so much teenagers who want sex too soon, but a society that offers too little too late--too little birth-control information, too few job opportunities, and too little reason for many low-income teenagers to stay in school and delay childbearing. Although most individuals believe that childbirth outside of marriage for women under eighteen is a cause of poverty, these essays suggest that poverty is also a partial cause of early childbirth.

The authors of this collection are prominent American and British researchers from varied backgrounds including law, psychology, sociology, medicine, philosophy, and history. In spite of other differences, they generally agree that more teenagers are unlikely to "just say no" to early sex or childbirth unless they have more opportunities to say yes to something else. To alter the social conditions that simultaneously promote and punish early childbearing, the authors argue that we need a better range of health, welfare, educational, and vocational strategies. As these researchers conclude, we cannot alter adolescents' choices without also redirecting adult priorities.
 

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Contents

Adolescent Sexuality Pregnancy and Childbearing
23
Teenage Pregnancy
46
A Perspective
59
The Cultural Construction
101
Procreative Choice for Adolescent Women
126
Conscious and Preconscious Motivation for Pregnancy
144
Psychological and Social Characteristics of Teenagers
159
Reflections on Family
174
The Impact
189
The Need for Diverse
257
Sexual Politics and the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention
284
Adolescent Pregnancy and Public Policy
301
Contributors
337
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