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Teen birth rate in Texas increases for the first time in 15 years

This new data shows the impact of abortion restrictions women and girls now face in the United States.
Teen birth rate in Texas increases for the first time in 15 years
Posted at 5:22 PM, Jan 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-29 07:52:05-05

New data is revealing the real-life impact of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022.

For the first time in 15 years, the birth rate among teens in Texas increased. 

The University of Houston’s Institute for Research on Women, Gender & Sexuality found the birth rate for women ages 15–44 in Texas went up by about 2%, and for teens, the birth rate increased by 0.39%. In both age groups, the highest increases were among Hispanic girls and women.

"It's certainly cause for discussion,” said Elizabeth Gregory, a professor and the Director of Women's Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of Houston. “This affects individuals’ lives in terms of what their long-term opportunities might be, if they have to step out of school or take jobs to support their children in the near term."

Dr. Sophia Yen, a child and maternal health physician and the co-founder of Pandia Health, said this data is concerning to her both personally and professionally. “It is devastating to me as a mother that my two daughters have fewer rights than I grew up with, and that is just wrong. We should be moving forward,” said Dr. Yen.

Dr. Yen channels the care she has for her daughters into her professional life too. Her company, Pandia Health, focuses on telemedicine and by-mail birth control prescriptions for women in states across the United States.

“Ever since Dobbs reversed Roe v. Wade, we saw a three-times increase in demand for our birth control delivery services,” said Yen.

She said she is not surprised to see the birth rate, including the teen birth rate, climbing in Texas.

“It is a total travesty to see all the years of decreasing teen pregnancy reversed because of decreased access to comprehensive sex ed, access to reproductive health services. Every teenage pregnancy was an opportunity where society failed that young woman,” said Yen.

SEE MORE: Roe v. Wade by the numbers: What's changed

Gregory said a rise in the birth rate for teen girls may soon show a loss in success for girls. She said lower teen birth rates have been statistically linked to higher graduation rates and better-paying jobs.

“There are just a lot of ripple effects that the community has to address, and again, it's not theoretical anymore. And that makes a different conversation,” said Gregory.

New data supports the idea that there is also an increase in pregnancies in states with restrictions in place. According to a research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 64,565 women and girls became pregnant across 14 states from nearly 520,000 cases of rape in the months after newly laid abortion restrictions took place.

Texas topped the list, with 45% of the rape-related pregnancies occurring there. The data was aggregated and estimated using CDC data and data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“That's very disheartening that women are having to carry pregnancies that they don't want, but it's also affecting their families because most people have children and significant others, so it's not just in all by yourself in a silo; it's with your entire family that’s being affected,” said Dr. Yen.

Gregory said that even though the data she collected focuses on Texas, it has national implications.

“It matters because Texas is a big part of the economy,” Gregory said. “But, certainly, it's a precursor for what we'll be seeing at a larger scale."

Both women said they hope this new data inspires people to ask bigger questions and encourages community members to get more civically involved, especially in an election year.

“We knew this was coming, and having this data is important to show that it's not hypothetical, that you are actually hurting people with your laws, and that we need to make health care not a political issue,” said Dr. Yen.

For women’s health resources, visit PandiaHealth.com.


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