- The sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s involved changes in Americans’ attitudes on certain sexual issues and an increase in premarital sex.
- Although teenagers are more sexually active today than before the sexual revolution, teenage pregnancy and birth rates have declined sharply since the early 1990s. Teenage pregnancy and birth cause several problems for the teenage mother and for society as a whole.
- To reduce teenage pregnancy further, the United States should expand publically funded family planning programs and increase the provision of contraceptives at little or no cost.
- Abortion has been common since ancient times and remains one of the most controversial issues in the United States. Since the US Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized all abortions during the first two trimesters, subsequent court rulings and various state actions have made abortions more difficult to obtain. Abortion rates differ by region of the nation and reflect the presence or absence of abortion providers.
- Around the world, abortion rates do not depend on whether abortion is legal or illegal, and they occur in great numbers even when they are illegal. For abortions to be as safe as possible, they must be legal.
- Prostitution has also been common since ancient times. Until the second decade of the twentieth century it was legal in much of the United States in the form of legal brothels.
- Streetwalkers comprise about one-fifth of all prostitutes. Compared to indoor prostitutes, they are more likely to be victims of violence and to obtain and transmit sexual diseases.
- When prostitution is legal, prostitutes fare much better than when prostitution is illegal. The problems that streetwalkers experience generally stem from the fact that their behavior is illegal.
- Pornography has also been around since ancient times. It does not appear to cause sexual violence against women, and efforts to ban it raise freedom of speech issues.
Using What You Know
A friend of yours has become pregnant after a casual sexual encounter. She is in the second semester of her junior year and was planning to graduate in fifteen months and go on to get a master’s degree in a business school. She confides in you that she is considering an abortion and wants your advice on what she should do. What do you tell her?
What You Can Do
To help deal with the sexual behavior problems discussed in this chapter, you may wish to do any of the following:
- Volunteer for a local agency that helps pregnant teenagers.
- Start or join in efforts on your campus to encourage safe sex.
- Volunteer at a family planning agency.