Editorial

The economy and the birth rate

Saturday, March 28, 2009

First came the news that the U.S. birth rate in 2007, the most recent year with complete figures, set a record, topping the 1957 birth rate at the height of the post-World War II baby boom.

The report also contained some encouraging news: Abortions dropped to their lowest levels in decades in 2007.

Then came the news that more pregnant women are seeking abortions this year for financial reasons.

Women who wanted to be pregnant are saying that with the economic downturn their families can no longer afford the additional expense of another child.

Another disturbing trend from the 2007 report on birth rates was the continued increase in teen pregnancies.

The record birth rate occurred before the current recession had a widespread effect on the economy, particularly on jobs.

The increase in requests from women seeking abortions this year appears to have direct links to the loss of paychecks, mortgage foreclosures and other economic hardships.

The impact of economic trends on birth rates has long been a statistical reality. In the U.S., the lowest birth rates occurred during the years of the Great Depression, before modern contraceptives were developed.

The decision to have children is always a major one.

The cost of feeding, clothing, housing and educating a child is, in too many cases, not a major consideration. It should be.

Resources are available that help women of childbearing age and the men in their lives understand the enormous commitment that comes with being a parent.

These latest statistics show these resources are vitally important.

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