Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /nfs/c03/h08/mnt/52664/domains/childrenandthelawblog.com/html/wp-content/plugins/microkids-related-posts/microkids-related-posts.php on line 645
Texas ranks #9 in states with the highest teenage birth rate. A whopping 1 in 6 of Texas teens who gave birth in Texas in 2020 had already given birth before. This comes after Texas passed the controversial Senate Bill 8 which greatly reduced abortion access in Texas.Access to abortion is only half the battle for those trying to reduce unplanned pregnancy in teenagers. Birth control also plays a critical role in protecting teens from unplanned pregnancies.
Birth control options are extremely limited for Texas teens. Texas is one of the states where teens under 18 need parental consent to go on contraception. A teen living independently with their own child needs a parent’s permission to go on contraception. Birth control is a taboo subject between many teens and parents, leaving some teens to wait until it’s too late. Teens who bring up contraception with their parents can be shut down. Parental permission is an even bigger hurdle for teens not living with their parents and teens in foster care who can not procure a parent’s consent.
Contraception is not covered for teens on CHIP, the state’s health insurance program, and they must instead seek coverage by the state funded Family Planning Program. Parental permission is also required under the Family Planning Program. CHIP covers teens through their 19th birthday.  An 18 year old still enrolled in CHIP will not have birth control covered by their insurance and must use the Family Planning Program. The FPP’s opt-in style contraception coverage creates a gap between a teen needing birth control and having that need met. This gap leaves teens vulnerable to unplanned pregnancy while they are trying to be responsible with their sexual health.
Texas attorney general Ken Paxton wrote an opinion targeting families who seek gender-affirming healthcare, particularly hormone blockers, for their transgender child.  This spells bad news for birth control, which usually blocks certain pregnancy-inducing hormones. The opinion encourages family services to investigate families suspected of providing gender-affirming care to their child, and is supported by a letter to Texas family services from Governor Greg Abott. The opinion does not outlaw hormone blocking medications for teens. It’s aim is to scare families away from certain healthcare for teenagers. The opinion targets puberty blocking drugs, but it may discourage transgender teens and their parents from going to birth control appointments out of fear of being reported by their doctor. As a result, trans youth face a new barrier to contraception. The attack on hormonal medications for teens leaves some contraceptives vulnerable to similar arguments, as they both use hormones that affect the reproductive system. If the government is successful with this intrusion into family healthcare, birth control could be next.
If Texas wants to reduce the number of teens giving birth, it must recognize a teen’s right to make their own reproductive health choices. The state can start by ensuring contraception is covered by CHIP, which would allow teens to get a birth control prescription filled soon after visiting their primary care doctor. Eliminating parental consent to birth control might be a long shot in the lone star state, but drastic action may be the answer to a drastic problem. It’s clear that Texas’ current approach to contraception is failing its children.