AUSTIN - A big move Wednesday by a Texas lawmaker to try and cut down on teenage pregnancies as well as abortions.
Texas has one of the highest teenage pregnancies in the nation: fourth highest according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The U.S. average is 31 births per 1,000 teenage women. In Texas, it’s 46.9 births per 1,000 teenage women.
"What can we do to make a big dent in that? It seems like having a pilot program is a good place to start,” said state Rep. Donna Howard.
Howard filed a bill Wednesday to get that program started, called HB 941.
If passed, it would provide LARCS or Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives like IUDs to high schoolers in six different school districts across the state.
The districts would vary from rural to urban, high-property-tax rates to lower-income districts and districts with high pregnancy rates as well as low pregnancy rates to vary the data.
It would also only be available to students with parental consent.
Howard was inspired by a similar move in Colorado wherein one of the largest experiments with long-acting birth control, teenagers and poor women were offered free IUDs and implants that prevent pregnancy for years.
And it worked: data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows both the birth rate and abortion rate for women ages 15-19 fell 48 percent from 2009 through 2014.
"That is unheard of, to have that kind of an impact,” said Howard regarding the Colorado program called The Colorado Family Planning Initiative.
Howard also hopes this will save Texas taxpayer dollars.
“Close to 80 percent of teen pregnancies are paid for by Medicaid,” she explained.
It's important to note funding for this pilot program will likely come from private donors and not the state. That's similar to how the program was funded in Colorado.
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