Some folks theorize that the rise in teen pregnancy rates is linked to the rise in abstinence-only programs, on the crazy idea that you can't fight a biological imperative that's designed to let people make babies after they hit puberty (whether you believe in evolution or the "be fruitful and multiply" model of human development), with just a pledge and a promise ring.
However, you also have to look at the challenge. They followed up the public policy stuff with a Behind Closed Doors segment (where they talk about "sensitive and sometimes uncomfortable issues"), where host Michel Martin (who blogs here) interviews "Makaiya," a 17-year old DC-area teen who's 4 months pregnant.
And look, I'm sorry, I'm going to beat up on the unwed DC public school system-educated non-Hispanic Black teen mother-to-be, but Makaiya's also apparently a brain donor.
She says she knows about birth control, but she thought she couldn't get pregnant. Why? Because, "We had an oops."
When asked what an oops was, "He forgot to put on a condom." (Well, he didn't really forget...)
It's a little hard to understand because she whispers a lot (though it adds to the cringeworthiness of the interview, since it draws you in) -- apparently, in an earlier "oops" encounter, she had unprotected sex, went to the doctor and found she wasn't pregnant, which made her think she couldn't get pregnant.
But it's okay, because it's a blessing, because she knows she can have kids now. Proof of concept. Even though neither really wanted to have a baby. And he didn't even really want to have sex -- she had to throw herself at him to make him give in.
Why? "Hormones." (At first, I thought she said "Homo," which would have been perversely better.)
Why couldn't she try the pill or a patch? Because she had insurance, so she couldn't go to the hospital. (Wait, what?)
As to her family situation -- her dad is uninvolved, her mom had her first child at 13, and has "up to 10 kids." (Up to? Same father, though.) Her older sisters are both single moms, and one's babydaddy tried to kill her with a homemade abortion.
She says, "I'm not going to say that I didn't protect myself" from getting pregnant (well, you don't really have to), but it's a blessing anyway.
The interview is about 10 minutes long. It feels like it lasts forever.
What makes this interview especially cringeworthy is that, unless you're some sort of arch-conservative reveling in the wrongness of this, is that even though you know it's just one person, in this one interview, this poor girl has just reinforced every negative stereotype of the undereducated, oversexed, superficially and hypocritically religious (Abstain from premarital sex? No. Get an abortion? No, it was a blessing and God's will. Get married? No.), multigenerationally dependent, urban Black experience.
In the face of these challenges, how do you reduce teen pregnancy? I have no idea, other than maybe some draconian economic disincentives; mandatory reversible sterilization (for all races and both genders, implemented immediately at puberty and lifted at age 18, after legal emancipation, or with a signed waiver of public assistance); or at the very least, an indelible glow-in-the-dark tattoo (on your location of choice) that says, "Any time you do sex -- even the first time -- could make a baby" (multilingual, of course, with little icons for the reading impaired).