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November 13, 1991

Teenage Pregnancy and Educational Opportunity

JAMA. 1991;266(18):2558-2559. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470180058019

To the Editor.  —In his commentary on our high infant mortality rate, Dr Hein1 recommends an intensive educational program about sexuality and responsible parenthood as a solution to our high teenage pregnancy rate. He makes the assumption that an unplanned pregnancy is an undesired pregnancy. In my experience as the medical director of a community health center serving a predominantly Hispanic and indigent population with a high proportion of teenage pregnancies, many of these pregnancies are not really unplanned. Many young women have told me that while they did not actively seek to become pregnant, they were not disappointed with the result. In analyzing this issue, one must look at the alternatives from the viewpoint of the teenage woman. One must ask whether her life will be appreciably better if she chooses to plan to avoid pregnancy. All too often, coming from a broken family in a substandard educational