Low-income women in Texas are more likely to get pregnant thanks to their state legislature’s crusade against abortion.
This year, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) stopped state funds from going to clinics he considers abortion “affiliates.” That disqualified the state from receiving any federal Women’s Health Program funding, destabilizing the entire program. Around the same time, the state legislature voted to cut overall family planning services for publicly-funded clinics in the state. In the end, Texas clinics were left high and dry and looking for cash.
The result? A new study from the New England Journal of Medicine reveals that cash-strapped Texas clinics are now unable to provide the most effective types of birth control to the women who need public assistance for contraception. Instead, they’re forced to use methods that are less effective at preventing pregnancy:
To continue serving as many clients as possible, clinics now rarely offer IUDs or implants, reserving these methods for women with medical contraindications to other contraceptives. Some providers have started waiting lists for IUDs and implants in the unlikely event that they can purchase them with money left over at the end of a funding period. In addition, as more women are steered toward contraceptive pills, they are being provided with fewer pill packs per visit, a practice that has been shown to result in lower rates of continuation with the method and that may increase the likelihood of unintended pregnancy — and therefore that of abortion.
The cognitive dissonance in the Texas legislature’s plan is apparent. Although GOP lawmakers intend to target health clinics like Planned Parenthood for providing abortion services, their move to slash funds for women’s health services have far-reaching effects that actually undermine their goal of lowering the abortion rate in the state. Higher rates of unplanned pregnancy lead to higher rates of abortions. And less funding for women’s health leads to more unintended pregnancies — particularly among women in poverty for whom having a child is not a viable economic option, and especially as the legislature in Texas simultaneously makes it harder to afford kids.