Texas Gets F-minus Grade on Reproductive Health Care

For the second year in a row, the United States received a D-minus in the Population Institute’s annual report card on reproductive health, because of state and federal policies that limit access to contraceptive and other health-care services. Photo: Sarah C/Flickr

by Eric Galatas

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas is one of 19 states to receive a failing grade on reproductive health, according to the latest Population Institute report card, which tracks multiple indicators, including access to family planning and abortion services.

Delma Catalina Limones, communications manager for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, says she was not surprised by the report’s results.

“We know that anti-abortion politicians in Texas have continued to peddle ideology over public health, and in turn Texans have had to deal with the consequences of a dismantled reproductive health care infrastructure in our state,” she states.

Limones says the state’s failing grade was due in part to budget cuts for health care centers, including Planned Parenthood, and laws that impose what she maintains are undue regulations on abortion providers.

Defenders of so-called TRAP laws, which require infrastructure upgrades at abortion facilities, maintain they are necessary to protect the health of unborn children and women.

Report co-author Jennie Wetter, director of public policy at the Population Institute, argues that requiring abortion facilities to be on par with an ambulatory surgical center, for example, might sound like a good idea. But she says those sorts of upgrades are not necessary for a medical procedure widely considered to be one of the safest in modern medicine.

“But when you dig into the details of what’s required, you see that it is just requiring the abortion providers to do millions of dollars in unnecessary upgrades with the intention of putting them out of business,” she points out.

The Lone Star State’s low score also reflects the fact that it does not mandate sex education in public schools.

Limones says 83 percent of Texas schools that offer sex education teach abstinence-only programs.

“And when they do provide any kind of sex education, it tends to be either medically inaccurate or very shameful and stigmatizing,” she states. “We’re not equipping our young people with the necessary and medically accurate information that empowers them to make the best decisions for themselves.”

There is good news. In Texas and across the nation, the teen pregnancy rate and unintended pregnancy rate are at historic lows, and are continuing to fall.

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