Teen Mothers Should Have Access to Contraception

Testimony on House Bill 1373 by Rep. Sarah Davis

Committee on House State Affairs

March 29, 2017

The Texas Medical Association and the Texas Pediatric Society support House Bill 1373 by Rep. Sarah Davis. The associations represent more than 50,000 physician, resident, and medical student members. The proposal is an important step in promoting the health of young families in Texas. Physicians are strong advocates for preventive health care for women, including access to family planning services. 

Mothers who are under 18 are able to make medical decisions for their infants and also should be able to make very important decisions that will affect both mom and baby. This includes being able to choose contraception to achieve the best possible health outcomes for baby and mom by spacing pregnancies.  

The teen birth rate has declined in recent years in Texas. However, about 20 percent of teen births are to teens who already have a child. We want our patients to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. We know there are a variety of socioeconomic and health risks associated with unplanned pregnancies of our young patients. Reducing barriers to contraception, including long-acting reversible contraceptives, helps guarantee fewer unplanned pregnancies and abortions, and more education and economic opportunities for these families.   

Minor parents who are not legally emancipated — and most are not; many still live with their own parents or guardian — are likely visit our office with their infant, for whom they are responsible. In most cases these teens don’t attend appointments with their parents, and we cannot give them adequate care without fully addressing their preventive care, including contraception.  

Teen childbearing in Texas costs taxpayers at least $1.1 billion annually according to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Total costs factor in the negative consequences sometimes experienced by the children of teen mothers during both their childhood and their young adult years, and include costs associated with public health care; increased risk of participation in child welfare; and, for children who have reached adolescence or young adulthood, increased risk of incarceration and lost tax revenue due to decreased earnings and spending. 

TMA physicians worked with Texas lawmakers in 2013 to make sure minor parents could consent to their own vaccinations, which is another critical protection for our patients. We now urge your support for allowing these teens — who are now parents — to have the right to do what is in the best interest of their child. 

Last Updated On

March 30, 2017

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