By: James Felton/IFL Science In Texas, up until 2011, there had been impressive progress in tackling teenage pregnancy. The teen pregnancy rate fell by an impressive 44 percent between 1988 and 2011.
According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Texas was still the sixth highest state for number of teen pregnancies, with 65 pregnancies occurring per 1,000 girls in 2011. But progress was definitely being made.
Unfortunately, a new study has now suggested that due to the Texas family planning budget being slashed by 67 percent since 2011, as a direct result, there has been a big spike in teen pregnancies that have resulted in teen births since then. In the four years following 2011, teen birth rates increased by 34 percent, reversing the excellent progress that had been made pre-cuts.
The study, by Analisa Packham of Miami University, reveals that the cuts have resulted in over 80 clinic closures. As a result, Packham claims, around 2,200 teens have given birth that wouldn’t have if the cuts hadn’t taken place.
Before 2011, when Texas’ teen birth rate was at a record low, its budget for family planning was $111 million for two years running. This shrunk to $37.9 million for the next two years. These cuts appear to have had a detrimental impact, the study claims, with a marked increase in teen birth rates of 3.4 percent by 2015.
The cuts in 2011 were presided over by the former governor of Texas, and current Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, who claimed that the cuts to planned parenthood would somehow decrease the number of abortions in the state. The actual effect of these cuts, according to Packham, is that teenage birth rates are on the rise instead.
“I ﬁnd little evidence that reducing family planning funding achieved this goal,” Packham wrote in her study. “The estimates suggest that nearly 2,200 teens would not have given birth absent the reduction in Texas family planning funding.”
The state also has the most cases of repeat teen pregnancies, according to the Center for Disease Control. On top of the problems caused by the closure of planned parenthood clinics, it probably doesn’t help matters that 58 percent of school districts in the state offer abstinence-only education, and, incredibly, 25 percent of the districts offer no sex education whatsoever.