Does Texas Want its Teens to Get Pregnant? If So, it’s Doing a Great Job

Every day, it gets harder and harder to be a person with a uterus living in Texas, and that challenge starts young. A study in the June issue of “Obstetrics & Gynecology” showed absurdly high teen pregnancy rates because the state government doesn’t think teens should have birth control or sex ed.

Researchers at the University of Florida-Pensacola analyzed teen pregnancies carried to term around the country. They found that in some places in Texas, the teen birth rates were 40 to 50 percent higher than the national average. Even when controlling for poverty, which is one of the main factors driving teen pregnancy, researchers found several high-risk areas in Texas that were higher than predicted.

More than 35,000 teens get pregnant every year in Texas, costing the state $1.1 billion annually. And yet, the state seems to be doing nothing to prevent teen pregnancy. Texas reproductive legislation is such a perfect storm of incompetence, contributing so significantly to teen pregnancy, you’d almost think the cause was malice instead of just stupidity.

While the state ranks fifth highest in the country for teen birth rates, 25 percent of Texas school districts offer no sex-ed whatsoever, and 60 percent have abstinence-only programs—which may actually be worse than nothing at all. In 2009, the state stopped requiring health education, the class where sex ed is often taught, as a prerequisite for graduation. The schools that do offer some form of sex ed are teaching out of 13-year-old textbooks, according to the Texas Tribune.

Research shows comprehensive sex ed programs actually reduce rates of teen pregnancy, significantly more than abstinence-only programs. It also slightly reduces reported rates of vaginal intercourse.

Unlike states with low rates of teen pregnancy, Texas is making it very difficult for teens to get birth control. Access to birth control is associated with lower rates of teen pregnancy, but Texas turned down federal Medicaid funding and closed 31 out of 74 Planned Parenthood clinics.

States with more Planned Parenthoods actually have lower rates of teen pregnancy. So do states that give away free birth control, particularly IUDs. For example, Colorado gave away over 30,000 IUDs and reduced the teen pregnancy rate by 40 percent in just four years. That’s an actual, effective strategy for reducing teen pregnancy.

Texas, on the other hand, has the highest rate of repeat teen pregnancy in the country. So what does it do? It requires teen moms to get their mother’s permission before they can get birth control. That’s right, in Texas you can be responsible for the life of another human being, but still unable to make your own basic healthcare decisions without your parents’ permission.

So, does Texas really want to prevent teen pregnancy? Given the state’s track record, it doesn’t seem like it.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock.

99 comments

Marie W
Marie W27 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Aileen C
AILEEN C5 months ago

Some States seem stuck in the past. Really folks get up to date for gawds sake

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Karen H
Karen H5 months ago

You have to wonder if these rich white men don't want women to have sex at all, and what men are supposed to do in that case. And what about women's health? So many states are now voting for NO birth control, NO maternity leave or care, NO abortion, NO screening for breast or cervical cancer. Someone should write a dystopian novel about a world without women. Who would these rich white guys pick on then? And who would they have sex with?

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Jerome S
Jerome S5 months ago

thanks

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natasha s
Past Member 5 months ago

Brutal state 4 women.

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iloshechka A
iloshechka A5 months ago

many thanks

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Karen H
Karen H5 months ago

We have to pressure our lawmakers to prevent gerrymandering so women's votes count.

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Liliana G
Liliana Garcia5 months ago

I agree with Karen. It looks as though the problem is besides living in a extremely repressive society also being a teen and powerless. How are older women solving issues about birth control over there? I wonder.

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Karen H
Karen H6 months ago

Just wonder how Texas lawmakers are dealing with randy boys who think girls are only for sex. The boys get off easy; the girls are stigmatized and punished.

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Leo C
Leo C6 months ago

Thank you for posting!

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