Entries in Teen Pregnancy (11)


Teen at Center of Abortion Debate Dies After Chemo Delay

Comstock/Thinkstock(SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic) -- A pregnant 16-year-old in the Dominican Republic took center stage in the abortion debate when she died last Friday of leukemia complications amid reports that doctors had delayed chemotherapy out of fear that it could terminate her pregnancy. The Dominican Republic has a strict anti-abortion law.

But the young woman's doctor at Semma Hospital in Santo Domingo told ABC News that the hospital had postponed chemotherapy not because of the country's abortion ban but because they were waiting for her bone marrow test results to come back from a hospital in New Jersey to determine what kind of leukemia she had.

The young woman, whose name has not been released, was admitted to the hospital on July 2, Dr. Tony Cabrera told ABC News. She told doctors she'd missed her period, and they immediately gave her a blood test and pelvic sonogram to determine she was pregnant.

Since chemotherapy interrupts tumor progression by halting the rapid division of cancer cells, "it's likely to also have an adverse effect on a rapidly dividing organism, such as an embryo," said Christina Chambers, at the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists' Collaborative Research Center in San Diego.

Dr. Lauren Streicher, an obstetrician at Northwestern University Hospital in Chicago, said doctors practicing in the United States generally recommend that cancer patients requiring chemotherapy terminate their pregnancies in their first trimester, "given the limitation of information about what generally happens at 10 weeks."

The young woman's mother, Rosa Hernandez, had urged doctors to give her daughter an abortion so she could undergo chemotherapy immediately, according to CNN, but Article 37 of the Dominican Republic's constitution prohibits abortion, claiming "the right to life is inviolable from conception until death." The doctors did not perform an abortion.

"My daughter's life is first. I know that [abortion] is a sin and that it goes against the law...but my daughter's health is first," Hernandez told CNN in July.

Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, an archbishop in Santo Domingo, spoke out about the case after a Mass in late July, saying that a "direct abortion" was wrong, but "everything possible" should be done to save the life of this young woman, according to the news organization Dominican Today.

"Her situation can be saved, but we don't agree with performing an abortion directly," Rodriguez said.

Once the doctors received the test results from the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center in Morristown, N.J., they learned their patient had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which Cabrera said had a "very poor prognosis," especially for children more than 10 years old. (For its part, the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center has not confirmed that it ever processed these tests.)

The doctors started chemotherapy when the young woman was nine weeks' pregnant, just as her first trimester was ending, in late July, Cabrera said.

Speaking generally, said Dr. Brian Druker, an oncologist at the Oregon Health and Science University, a short delay in administering chemotherapy should not in itself drastically affect a patient's outcome.

"A delay of a couple of weeks should have no bearing on the outcome unless there was a complication that made someone's medical condition less able to handle therapy," said Druker.

But last Thursday night, the young patient had begun to cough up blood and was moved to the intensive care unit, where she was placed on a respirator, Cabrera said. She also had vaginal bleeding and severe respiratory distress.

She underwent a blood transfusion, but by 2 a.m. Friday, she'd miscarried, Cabrera said. A few hours later, she went into cardiac arrest. Doctors were able to revive her, but she died at 8 a.m. Friday.

Death was attributed to hypovolemic shock (not enough blood or fluid), alveolar hemorrhage, acute respiratory distress syndrome and acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Cabrera said.

After her daughter's death, Hernandez told CNN, "They have killed me. I'm dead, dead. I'm nothing....She was the reason for my existence. I no longer live. Rosa has died. Let the world know that Rosa is dead."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Louisiana High School Panned for Pregnancy Policy

Hemera/Thinkstock(DELHI, La.) -- A Louisiana high school has come under attack for a policy that bans pregnant students, and those who refuse to take a pregnancy test, from its campus.

According to its student pregnancy policy, Delhi Charter School "reserves the right to require any female student to take a pregnancy test." If the test is positive, "the student will not be permitted to attend classes on the campus of Delhi Charter School."

"There's so much wrong with this policy, it's hard to know where to start," said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana. "In a nutshell, it illegally discriminates against girls simply for being pregnant."

Although the policy allows pregnant students to continue their education through home study courses provided by the school, Esman said it violates Title IX, which prohibits schools receiving federal funds from excluding students based on "pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy or recovery therefrom."

"They need to immediately suspend enforcement of the policy and then revamp it," said Esman, who in an Aug. 6 letter to the school's principal and board chairman threatened legal action. "They need to come up with a policy that's legal."

In response to the letter and ABC News' requests for comment, school principal Chris Broussard said the policy would be revised to comply with the law. "There have never been any complaints from students or parents about the school's policy."

Broussard declined to comment on the origins of the policy, having joined the Delhi Charter School staff just one month ago.

Louisiana has one of the highest teen birth rates in the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate, 54.1 births per 1,000 teens, was 12.6 points higher than the national average in 2008, the latest year for which data are available.

But Esman said policies that discourage pregnant students from attending school are both illegal and misguided.

"For someone who's going to be a young parent, getting an education is the best thing she can do," she said. "The best thing a school can do to prevent teen pregnancy is have a really comprehensive sex education program. If that's the school's goal, that's the way to do it."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Show About Mom, Teen Daughter Pregnant Raises Questions

TLC(NEW YORK) -- TLC's new show, My Teen Is Pregnant and So Am I, chronicles the often bumpy journey of a pair of teen moms whose own mothers are expecting at the same time.

Liz Forbes and Ann Golden from Oklahoma City are one of the two mother-daughter duos the show follows from pregnancy to childbirth.  Forbes was just 17 when she discovered that she and her boyfriend Chris were going to have a baby, and then found out about a month later her 36-year-old mother was also pregnant.

My Teen Is Pregnant and So Am I is intended to entertain first and foremost, but it raises some provocative questions about parenting.  While the other pregnant mother-daughter pair on the show goes to war with one another, Forbes and Golden are seen attempting to turn their simultaneous pregnancies into a bonding experience.

"Once we got pregnant, we were with each other every day," Forbes said.  "We were constantly talking … it brought us closer again."

Golden said she has always believed that being a confidante -- a girlfriend -- to her daughter was more effective than being a heavy-handed parent.

"I think you know more about your kid if you're best friends," she said.  Her daughter agreed.

"Most girls won't even tell their parents they're having sex, so it makes it easier for them to get pregnant," Forbes said.

"Her being hard on me is not going change the fact that it happened," she continued. "That's why I'm glad to have her, because that's how she is.  I know that she was disappointed and everything, but she didn't let it show too much… It wasn't as difficult because I had my mom."

Golden knows what it's like to be a young mom on her own. She had Forbes when she was 18 and raised her as a single parent for more than a decade. Now, Golden is trying to provide her daughter with the support and compassion that she always craved when she was a teen mom.

"We can't turn the clocks back," Golden said. "What am I going do, be angry?  She's going to resent me and I'll never see her or my grandson and that's not the kind of relationship I wanted.  I wanted to be involved in her life."

My Teen Is Pregnant and So Am I premieres Wednesday on TLC at 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Report: Teen Pregnancies Reach Lowest Level in 40 Years

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Teen pregnancies in the United States are at their lowest level in nearly 40 years, says a new report published by the Guttmacher Institute.

The organization, which focuses on sexual and reproductive health, released the U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: National Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity report on Wednesday, showing 7 percent of U.S. teens aged between 15 to 19 became pregnant in 2008.

The rate is a 42-percent drop in all racial categories from 1990. Racial disparities still persist, however, with Hispanic and black teens becoming pregnant at at a rate of at least twice their white peers. In 2008 abortion rates for black teens were four times higher than for white teens.

The drop in pregnancies is attributed in part to teens using contraception more effectively as well as a decrease in sexual activity.

"The recent declines in teen pregnancy rates are great news," said lead author Kathryn Kost. "However, the continued inequities among racial and ethnic minorities are cause for concern. It is time to redouble our efforts to ensure that all teens have access to the information and contraceptive services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Poor Teens Lack Access to Emergency Contraception: Study

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Low-income communities have the highest teen pregnancy rates in the U.S., yet emergency contraception may be hardest for girls in those areas to get their hands on, according to a new study.

While pharmacies in underserved communities are just as likely to stock the morning-after pill as pharmacies in more affluent ones, researchers from Boston Medical Center found that pharmacists in poorer areas were more often misinformed about the law and mistakenly were denying 17-year-old girls access to Plan B.

Plan B, or levonorgestrel, prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus, if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.  The drug is sometimes confused with the so-called abortion pill, RU-486, but unlike RU-486, Plan B cannot be used to terminate a pregnancy.

In 2006, Plan B became available for purchase by adults in the U.S. without a prescription. Three years later, in 2009, the FDA lowered the age at which Plan B could be dispensed without a prescription to allow 17 year olds access to the drug without a prescription.

According to the study, pharmacists and pharmacy staff may not be adequately apprised of the change in the law.

"We were very surprised by the results" of the study, said Dr. Tracey Wilkinson, its senior author and a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center. "There is a lot of misinformation about emergency contraception."

Wilkinson also suggested that the box labels on the contraception -- as well as the advertising -- may not be clear, and may be contributing to the problem.

In the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, graduate assistants posed as 17-year-old adolescents and called more than 900 pharmacies in diverse neighborhoods throughout the U.S. to see whether pharmacists would dispense the morning-after pill to the "teen" customers.

Eighty percent of pharmacies said they had Plan B in stock, and the availability of the pill was consistent across the diverse communities, researchers said.  But 19 percent of all the pharmacists told the "teenagers" that they could not obtain the pill under any circumstance, and they said the misinformation occurred more often -- 23.7 percent versus 14.6 percent -- in low-income neighborhoods.

While this study focused on pharmacies, Wilkinson said there is a lot of confusion about Plan B within the medical community at large, not just the pharmacies. Given the controversy surrounding the drug, and the changes in the rules and guidelines surrounding access, it's, "not really surprising that it permeates everywhere,'' she said.

Whatever the reason for the misinformation, whether it's a problem with staff education in the pharmacies, high turnover, the relative rarity of teens asking for the drug, she said, "at the end of the day, it puts adolescents in poor neighborhoods at a disadvantage," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


CDC: Many Teen Girls Unaware of How Easily They Can Get Pregnant

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Many adolescent girls are confused about how easy it is to become pregnant, especially when contraceptives aren't used, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Data taken from the 2004 to 2008 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System of females between 15 and 19 years old found that one in two teens who had an unwanted pregnancy reported that neither they nor their partner used birth control.

In the group that dispensed with contraceptives, a third of girls claimed that they didn't think they could pregnant at that time, 23 percent said their partner refused to use birth control and about the same number had no problem with getting pregnant.


Contraceptive use also didn't prevent teens from becoming pregnant, with 45 percent using either high effective or moderately effective birth control methods while five percent depended solely on the rhythm method.

The CDC says more needs to be done to educate teens about pregnancy and how to prevent it.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Teen Girl Fights Family Abortion Plan

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas) -- A pregnant Texas teenager has gone to court to stop her family from pressuring her into an abortion.

The high school freshman, who does not want to be named, lives in Corpus Christi with her adult cousins, whom her attorney Stephen Casey says hit her, prevented her from going to school, and threatened her repeatedly.

"One family member threw her into the car, on her stomach, and said, 'I'm going to beat you until you decide otherwise,'" Casey told ABC News.

In court documents obtained by ABC News, the 14-year-old alleges that her cousins and grandmother scheduled an appointment at the Coastal Birth Control Center to terminate the pregnancy against her will. The girl's grandmother, Carmen Pantoja, says the allegations against her family are false. Pantoja says she suggested an abortion, but never tried to force her to have one.

"I advised her to have it. That's not the same as forcing her," Pantoja said, "If I had forced her, I would have paid for it and I didn't pay for nothing. Nobody forced her do anything."

The teenager's attorney says this case is about protecting the young girl's reproductive rights.

"We want her protected. We want her to be able to assert her rights without any heavy brush back that's going to affect her and her unborn child, physically and emotionally," Casey said.

Casey is part of the Texas Center for the Defense of Life, a consortium of pro-life attorneys which has fought cases like this before. In October 2010, the group represented a 16-year-old whose parents tried to convince their daughter to have an abortion, bringing her to clinics on two occasions. The center helped the girl win a court order in Travis County Texas District Court that her parents signed, agreeing to stop any attempt to terminate her pregnancy. Baby Leah was born last spring.

The 14-year old girl in this latest case secretly contacted the group through text message when she was seven weeks pregnant. Now at 10 weeks, she is living with the family of the father of her unborn child. Casey says both teenagers agree that she should carry the baby to term, but have not decided what happens after that.

State District Judge Missy Medary has appointed a guardian for the teen and granted two temporary injunctions barring the girl's family members from coercing her in her reproductive decisions until a Jan. 19 hearing. At that time, the judge will decide whether to extend that injunction through the rest of the teen's pregnancy.

Pantoja says she has accepted her granddaughter's decision to keep the child.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Government Report Shows Promising Trends in America's Children

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new government report suggests that teen pregnancy, binge drinking, preterm births, and injury death rates are all declining. On the flip side, the report also shows that more eighth-graders are taking drugs, and child poverty rates are increasing.

The report, which is called "America's Children: Key National Indicators and Well-Being, 2001" is produced by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. The information is intended to advise lawmakers on child-related legislation.

Among the other positive news in the report was a ten percent decrease in the number of children living in areas of air pollution between 2008 and 2009.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Washington Teen Fakes Pregnancy As Social Experiment

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(TOPPENSIH, Wash.) -- Gaby Rodriguez, 17, shocked her friends, teachers and family when she said she was pregnant.  She surprised them even more when she revealed this week that for six months, she had faked the pregnancy.

"Everybody was just shocked, like speechless," Rodriguez said.

Gaby decided to make her senior year project at Toppenish High School in Washington a social experiment where she pretended to be pregnant.

The straight-A student got the approval of her principal, her mother, her boyfriend and best friend.  They were the handful of people in on the secret.  Six of Gaby's seven siblings didn't know and neither did her boyfriend's parents.

Gaby began the elaborate hoax following Homecoming last October.  She convinced school principal Trevor Greene to let her pursue the project, which she's titled "Stereotypes, Rumors and Statistics."

Gaby started with baggy clothes and eventually fashioned a fake belly out of wire mesh and cotton quilt batting.  The aspiring social worker started taking notes on everything that was said about her.

"A lot of rumors were just that I was irresponsible.  No was bound to happen.  I knew she would get pregnant.  Doesn't she know she just ruined her life," she said.

The struggles of being a teenager with a baby are well documented and they have gotten a lot of attention lately because of the controversial MTV shows Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant.

Gaby had her own dramatic moment more powerful than any TV drama when she revealed the truth to the entire school at an assembly Wednesday.

She passed out notecards with the things that had been said about her and had students read them.

Gaby began by revealing that for months some students had left her feeling alone and ashamed.  Then, she pulled out the stuffing from under her shirt and left an entire gymnasium stunned.

Gaby plans to present her findings to community leaders to help other young women fight stereotypes and find the same quality she discovered along the way -- courage.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pregnancy Pressure: Is MTV's 'Teen Mom' Encouraging Pregnancy for Fame?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK ) -- Critics of the MTV show Teen Mom 2 say that the show is encouraging teen pregnancy after three friends of one of the show's young stars got pregnant.

Jenelle Evans, mother of 1-year-old Jace, found reality fame first on MTV's Sixteen and Pregnant and now on Teen Mom 2. Recently, eyebrows were raised when it was revealed that three of Evans' teen friends had gotten pregnant. The pregnancies fueled speculation on the Internet that the teenagers got pregnant for fame's sake, labeling them "copycat moms."

Two of the girls, 18-year-old Keeley Sanders and 17-year-old Lauren Pruitt, said that they didn't get pregnant for fame and didn't enter into a pregnancy pact with one another.

"My pregnancy wasn't influenced by Jenelle. It wasn't influenced by nobody, but the wrong decisions," Sanders said.

Sanders is due next month. Pruitt just gave birth to a baby girl last week.

"I didn't want to put my pregnancy out there, it's kind of more personal to me," Pruitt added.

Doctor Logan Levkoff, a teen development expert, said that even if Teen Mom 2 doesn't glamorize teen pregnancy, there are more examples of pregnant teens in pop culture than ever before.

"The way we bring people, reality stars into fame for really not doing anything has created a culture where it is exciting to be a pregnant teen and the fact of the matter is that most teens who are pregnant do not have the same experience that the girls on those shows have," Levkoff said.

MTV presents their teen mom reality shows as an object lesson for teens in avoiding unwanted pregnancy. Each season, the show follows four teen mothers showing the gritty hardship, both emotional and financial, of teen motherhood. The show is a ratings boom for the network and the young women have become stars, earning six-figure incomes and gracing the covers of tabloids.

"We have our pregnant teens showing up on the cover of magazines, they're getting paid, they're getting endorsement deals and getting calendar deals. That's the message, even if MTV shows all of the hardships, they're still being supportive in so many other ways," Levkoff said.

Their fame hasn't always come from good behavior. Amber Portwood, a teen mom from the show's first season, has been arrested for domestic violence. Evans, 19, was arrested last month for breaking and entering and possession of drugs shortly before Teen Mom 2 premiered.

According to a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the teen birth rate in the United States declined 6 percent in 2009. The teen birth rate is now at a record low. Levkoff cautions that the teen pregnancy rate is still very high.

"The number of births that teens are having is the lowest, but we have still in the United States the highest rates of teen pregnancy of any developed nation, twice as high in Canada, significantly higher than all of our European counterparts. We're basically on par with Turkey Romania and Bulgaria," Levkoff said.

One million girls will become teen moms this year, struggling with motherhood away from the cameras.

"It's not glitz and glamour, it is hard work," Sanders, a teen-mom-to-be, said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio