Texas Republicans Suddenly Realize Cutting Birth Control Access Increases Unintended Pregnancies

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By Ashley Portero | December 11, 2012 8:50 AM EST

Texas lawmakers are reportedly reconsidering their decision to defund their state’s family planning clinics last year after the state’s Health and Human Services Commission informed them of a fact that most high school students are aware of: Woman are more likely to have unintended pregnancies if they do not have access to contraception.

The latest projections from the commission indicate poor women will deliver as estimated 23,760 more babies than they would have between 2014-15 as a result of reduced access to subsidized birth control. The projections, which The Texas Tribune reports were recently circulated among lawmakers,  come in the aftermath of the Republican-controlled legislature’s passage of a two-year budget that moves $73 million from family planning services to other programs.

The HSS also predicts an uptick in births will cost taxpayers an additional $273 million, primarily in Medicaid expenses.

“I’ve debated this in Republican clubs with people — people who say it’s not the government’s role to provide family planning,” Texas Sen. Bob Deuell, a Republican representing Greenville, told the publication. “Ultimately, they’re right. But you have to look at what happens if we don’t.”

A bipartisan coalition is reportedly considering ways to restore at least a portion of the funding gutted from family planning services, according to state Rep. Donna Howard. The Democrat from Austin said some her colleagues "felt like in retrospect they did not fully grasp the implications of what was done last session."

However, Planned Parenthood clinics would almost certainly be excluded, even though it is the largest healthcare provider for low-income women in the state. The GOP’s crusade against Planned Parenthood is largely based on an assertion that it primarily acts as an abortion provider, an accusation that has been debunked.

The New England Journal of Medicine also predicts Texas pregnancies could soar because poor women may resort to less effective methods of birth control. Those same GOP lawmakers who oppose family planning funding may be interested in that fact, since studies have shown that unintended pregnancies -- often the result of ineffective birth control -- directly correlate with higher abortion rates.

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