Teenage pregnancy has increased by 3.4 percent in Texas since 2011, when the state government stripped 67 percent of funding from family planning services and shuttered 80 clinics across the state, according to a new study by a Texas A&M alumnus.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Analisa Packham, who received her doctorate in economics from A&M in 2016 and now works at Miami University, found that approximately 2,200 teens gave birth to children they otherwise would not have if the funding had not been stripped.
“Given that the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy estimates that the average cost of teen childbearing to taxpayers is nearly $27,000 per birth, the estimated costs of the reduction in family planning funding are $81 million,” writes Packham. “Therefore the costs of unintended pregnancy caused by the policy change outweigh the $73 million budget cuts.”
Packham notes that teenagers in particularly are disproportionately affected by defunding policies, as they are twice as likely as older women to have an unplanned pregnancy, and are less likely to seek contraception when low-cost options are unavailable. Packham also cites multiple studies that show an association between teen motherhood and poor life outcomes, including low graduation rates, poverty, low wages, and dependence on government services.
Packham told the Chronicle that in the long run, it is more cost-effective to invest in these services, rather than cut their funding.
”Reducing funding for family planning services can have the unintended consequences of increasing abortion and reducing the number of women seeking preventative health care,” Packham told the Chronicle. “Moreover, the funding for family planning services is cost effective. Cutting such programs is cutting an investment in women and children, which can lead to lower economic productivity, lower tax revenue and higher public expenditures down the line.”