Teen pregnancy is the leading cause of death for girls, and the problem is as urgent as it sounds
A new report from Save the Children, which is an NGO that works with children worldwide, found that teen pregnancy is the leading cause of death among girls age 15 to 19 years old. They concluded that “teenage pregnancy kills one girl every 20 minutes,” which is a scary and tragic figure. It’s usually the result of complications from pregnancy and lack of access to quality care, like bleeding, blood poisoning, labor complications, and unsafe abortions. According to the World Health Organization, there are 3 million unsafe abortions every single year performed just on teen girls.
This is even more troublesome given that Donald Trump reinstated the global gag order this year, which means that no American funding — to the tune of $9 billion — can go to organizations that perform (or even talk to patients about) abortion, meaning that teens and women everywhere will be more susceptible to labor complications and unsafe abortions. Those organizations also do things like provide medical care, like prenatal checkups, postnatal care, or breastfeeding training after birth. Which is important since it isn’t just the mothers that are at risk when it comes to teen pregnancy. Babies born to teen moms are 30 percent more likely to die than babies born to even slightly older women in their twenties.
Those organizations also provide contraception to women and treat STIs. Kirsty McNeill, Executive Director of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns of Save the Children UK said in a statement, “It’s unacceptable that so many young girls are dying simply because they don’t have access to contraceptives like condoms or the pill, or because of myths and cultural barriers.”
Unacceptable is an understatement. Giving young women the choice to control when they get pregnant could actually save their lives. Save the Children concluded that if more isn’t done, the situation would get worse. Already, 30,000 teenage girls die every year because of unplanned pregnancy. If governments don’t start funding organizations that can help them, that number will just go up, which is so unnecessary when the world definitely has the resources to help it.