March 22, 2007
The surest way to prevent termination of a pregnancy is to prevent the pregnancy.
So I filed Senate Bill 837, also known as the Prevention First bill. My hope was that it would take the battle over unintended pregnancies – an issue that defines bitter, all-or-nothing fights – and create consensus around things we can all agree on. Unfortunately, this bill did not become law.
Texas leads the nation in teen birthrates. More than half of all births in Texas are paid for by Medicaid.
The bill would have focused on the women and families at the center of this debate, not the warriors on both sides. It would have required the state to get behind a marketing campaign to reduce unintended pregnancies and transmissions of sexually transmitted diseases. It also mandated that parents know far more about what and when their kids are being taught about sex.
The bill would have helped avoid wrenching debate and decisions before they happen by preventing unwanted pregnancies, and it would have saved the state millions. It costs Texas only about $170 to provide a year of contraception (including a pap smear). But it costs about $8,500 for the first year of a Medicaid-funded pregnancy.