It's true that birth control is reasonably widely available in American drug stores. But the rate of usage of birth control is much lower in the United States than in Western Europe and the rest of the developed world. Hence, unsurprisingly, America's rates of teen pregnancy and unwanted pregnancy are much higher than in most other developed countries, as is America's rate of abortion. Rachael Phelps had a pretty great photo essay about this in Slate back in October. The average age of sexual debut in America and Europe, she noted, is the same: 17. But America's teen pregnancy rate is three to six times higher than Western European rates. And our abortion rate is about three times as high as that of Germany or the Netherlands and about double that of France. Ms Phelps describes how European public-health campaigns encouraging contraceptive use dovetail with national attitudes towards sexuality that treat it as less of a dangerous conflagration and more of a natural part of development.
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