19 August 2004
BRUSSELS – Belgium’s teen pregnancy rate is increasing, with more and more girls aged 14 to 16 choosing to keep their baby, it was reported Thursday.
In the past year, some 1,368 adolescents became pregnant, a 4 percent increase over 2002. Between a quarter and a third of all the pregnancies were planned.
Non-profit organisation Jeunesse et Sexualité (Youth and Sexuality) has found that many of the young women who choose to carry a baby to term are already having a hard time at school or home, cannot find work and just view having a baby as another complication and part of the normal growing-up process. Many also see it as a way to start a new life, said Christianne Vienne, the Wallonian regional health minister.
Vienne told La Derniere Heure newspaper that 14 is too young to have a baby and recommends educating young girls on the necessity of abstinence.
“I prefer that younger girls of 14 abort in 100 percent of the cases,” she said. “I am not pleading for abortion as a general rule, but in this particular case, yes.” She herself is a mother of nine, having had her first child at 24.
The rate is not the same throughout Belgium. The phenomenon is especially pronounced in the province of Hainaut, whereas in Brabant Wallonia the pregnancy rate is especially low. Statistics also show that the proportion of births involving mothers under 20 is greater than elsewhere in the French-speaking community.
At the same time, the abortion rate among teen mothers has not diminished, despite the fact that birth-control pills have been offered free of charge as of this past May for girls under 21 years. Every year some 15,000 women in Belgium – of which 3,000 are aged 13 and 20 — have voluntary abortions.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news