‘Adolescent Pregnancy’

Social problem, public health concern, or neither?

Authored by: Catriona Ida Macleod , Tracey Feltham-King

Routledge International Handbook of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health

Print publication date:  October  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138490260
eBook ISBN: 9781351035620
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter we outline three major approaches to adolescent pregnancy. The first is the ‘social problem’ approach, in which adolescent pregnancy is viewed as, for the most part, deleterious for the young woman, her offspring, and society. This position fuels public outrage when the numbers of pregnant adolescents (especially when they are school pupils) are revealed in newspapers. The second is a public health response, which is well established and which has much institutional kudos. Here the neutral language of population-wide health is used to underpin preventive efforts in relation to adolescent pregnancy. In the third approach, authors point to the problems underlying both of these positions, arguing that arbitrarily separating younger pregnant women from older pregnant women is premised on particular power relations.

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