- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A new study indicates that giving teenagers condoms increases their chance of becoming pregnant.

Kasey Buckles and Daniel Hungerman, economists at the University of Notre Dame, tracked outcomes from 22 schools in 12 states that distributed condoms to their students during the 1990s.

Those schools had 10 to 12 percent higher-than-expected teenage fertility rates, even at a time when teen pregnancy was decreasing across the nation.

“Our work shows that, in fact, condom access — at least through school — did not play a role in the decline in teen fertility in the 1990s,” the researchers conclude.

Although they cannot point definitively to why increased condom availability led to a spike in teenage fertility, the authors provide some speculation.

Increased access to condoms, they said, may encourage risky sexual behavior and dilute an emphasis on abstinence.

Provided with free condoms, teenagers may also be discouraged from using other more expensive forms of contraception, such as birth-control pills, that are more reliable.

The authors point out that the effects were concentrated at schools that did not mandate counseling in addition to the distribution of condoms.

“Programs with counseling may have seen no change or perhaps a decline in teen fertility,” they note.

The study also found an increased rate of sexually transmitted infections at schools with condom-distribution programs.

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