Texas Abortion Laws Cause Horrific Impact on Latinas: Teen Pregnancies and Assault-Related Pregnancies Surge
In June 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States decided to overturn Roe v. Wade. The news was met with alarm not only from women all over the country but also from healthcare providers. These professionals expressed grave concerns about the negative effects the decision would have on women’s health, including mental health.
Today, those concerns are a reality, and the statistics are alarming, especially when it comes to Latinas, who are suffering the disproportionate impact of abortion restrictions. Particularly in states like Texas, where abortion has been banned after 6 weeks of pregnancy since 2021.
The Disproportionate Impact of Abortion Restrictions on Latinas
The increase in teen pregnancies and the increase in rape-related pregnancies demonstrates how far the disproportion runs and the nightmare Latinas are experiencing in Texas.
According to a study from the University of Houston, women in Texas delivered 16,147 more babies in 2022 than in 2021. For the first time in 15 years, Texas’ fertility rate increased just one year after the 6-week abortion ban was introduced.
The study also showed that, compared to other racial or ethnic groups, the biggest increase in birth happened among Latinas of all ages. Out of the 16,147 pregnancies that came to term, 84% of those babies were delivered by Latinas.
The Increase in Teen Pregnancy Among Latinas
The same University of Houston study shed light on how much teen pregnancy has increased following the abortion ban in Texas. While teen birth rates remained steady in the country, Texas’ teen birth rate increased by 1.2% among Latinas, 0.5% among Blacks, and 8.2% among Asians. Asian teens show a larger ratio because they’re a small part of the population in the state.
While other racial and ethnic groups of women have been affected by the state’s abortion ban, Latinas are affected most of all. The fact is that, because abortion is banned in Texas, pregnant teens who would want to terminate the pregnancy are forced to go out of state to seek the medical attention they need.
The problem with that is that Latinas face a litany of obstacles including the inability to afford travel costs or take time off work. Additionally, Latinas face disparities in health insurance coverage, which makes healthcare a lot more challenging to access, if not impossible in most cases. This has prompted organizations like Jane’s Due Process to support pregnant teens. Sadly, it’s not enough.
According to the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, the Texas abortion ban has completely disconnected Latinas from reproductive healthcare. Unfortunately, this disconnection is not new. Latinos are the largest population group in Texas, and yet they’re the least likely to be insured. This is due to the lack of affordable coverage options, the lack of Medicaid expansion, and the many barriers Latinos face when it comes to fulfilling insurance requirements. So health inequalities for Latinos in Texas have been a long-standing issue.
Increase in Rape-Related Pregnancies in Texas
The disproportionate impact of abortion restrictions on Latinas doesn’t end with teen pregnancy. A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that there have been over 26,000 rape-related pregnancies in Texas since the near-total abortion ban was introduced. Texas now accounts for 43% of rape-related pregnancies reported in the entire country because it doesn’t allow abortions in cases of rape or incest.
This directly contradicts Governor Greg Abbott’s pledge to eliminate rape and his claim to support rape victims with immediate access to health care. Emergency contraception like the Plan B pill may be available over the counter, but it’s not accessible for low-income Texans, including Latinas. It’s also not 100% effective, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. In other words, emergency contraception doesn’t substitute abortion in the way many seem to believe.
The same study also showed that, since Row v. Wade was overturned in 2022, 519,980 girls and women of reproductive age have been raped. 1 in 10 of them have become pregnant. However, there are less than 10 abortions per month in states with abortion restrictions and bans.
That means that the vast majority of rape victims have no access to abortion services or emergency contraception, not even in states that claim to have rape exceptions. To say that this causes more trauma for rape survivors is an understatement. They’re stripped of their agency once more, this time by the system, which prevents them from making informed decisions about their rape-related pregnancies.
The Impact of Abortion Bans on Mental Health
There are 50 years' worth of international psychological research that indicates that having an abortion is not associated with mental health problems. On the contrary, restricted access to safe abortions leads to physical and mental health issues. The Turnaway Study offers proof of that. It was published in 2017 and they followed the outcomes of 1000 women from 30 abortion clinics around the country for 5 years.
The study showed that, when abortions were denied, women reported more anxiety symptoms, stress, lower self-esteem, and lower life satisfaction compared to those who received an abortion. Women proceeding with unwanted pregnancies faced physical health problems, economic hardships, and were more likely to stay linked to a violent partner or raise children alone.
This is the reality of every single Latina who was denied their right to abortion in the state of Texas, many of them being teenagers. When looking at numbers on paper, it may be difficult to fully grasp the magnitude of the issue. But every number is a story and a life forever changed by the inability to access legal and safe abortion.
This is what fuels the fire of reproductive rights activists, and it’s also why supporting movements like Women’s March and initiatives like the Arizona Abortion Access Act is not only important but vital for the Latino community. Other funds to support include Jane's Due Process, which helps young people gain access to abortion and reproductive health support, and Fund Texas Choice, which provides travel assistance to women who have to flee the state of Texas to obtain reproductive health access.
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