National fertility rates have been in steady decline over the past decade in the United States, attributed in part to increased access to contraceptives and family planning awareness. However, a recent study by The University of Houston's Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality revealed that since the abortion ban in 2022, birth rates have increased among Latinas in Texas. While the ban may have also impacted individuals from other racial groups, the findings suggest that Latinas in the United States have borne the brunt, facing greater challenges in accessing reproductive care, including both contraception and abortion.

A Brief History Of ‘Roe vs Wade’ In The United States

In the United States, twenty-one states have implemented significant restrictions and bans on abortion, marking a setback from what was established in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. In that case, the United States Supreme Court upheld the right of "Jane Roe," a woman seeking a safe abortion. The ruling affirmed that the constitutional right to privacy was broad enough to encompass a woman's decision to terminate her pregnancy.

For nearly half a century, this decision ensured women's reproductive rights, allowing access to abortion, until the Supreme Court overturned this decision last year. However, it is important to note that Roe v. Wade was not a perfect solution, as other laws imposed significant barriers to accessing this procedure, particularly affecting Black, Latina, and Indigenous women in the United States facing challenges in accessing healthcare.

Texan Latinas and Impact of Senate Bill 8

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the year 2022, Texas experienced an overall 2 percent increase in fertility rates, yet there are disparities among demographic groups. Among Latinas aged 25 to 44, there was a remarkable 8 percent increase in fertility rates, starkly contrasting with the decreases observed among white women (2 percent) and black (non-Hispanic) women (-0.6 percent). On the other hand, Asian women experienced a 0.9 percent rise.

Graph showing decline in Texas fertility rates by race (NH Asian, NH Black, Hispanic, NH White) from 2016-2022.
Credits: Institute for Research on Women, Gender & Sexuality

Lupe M. Rodríguez, Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, underscores the significance of these findings, emphasizing the immense challenges Latinas - adult and teens in the United States face in accessing essential reproductive care. Rodríguez highlights the impact of Senate Bill 8 in Texas, which has exacerbated barriers to abortion care, particularly affecting marginalized communities.

"We know that in the two years since Senate Bill 8 passed and went into effect in Texas, the experience on the ground is that it's become much, much harder for Texans to access the abortion care they need." explains Rodríguez. "And we know from our own specific work with the Latine community that it's incredibly impossible for our community to get this care."

On the other hand, the analysis revealed a 0.39 percent increase in births among teenage mothers in the state. This is a significant shift, considering that since 2007, there has been a consistent decline, reaching a decrease of 67.2 percent over the past 14 years. However, upon further examination of the data by racial groups, it becomes apparent that births among white teenagers continue to decline, while there are small increases among Latina, Black, and Asian teenagers in the United States.

The statistics are clear: the abortion ban in Texas has had a disproportionate impact on Latinas, increasing birth rates and teenage pregnancy rates in this group. Lack of access to healthcare, misinformation, and low wages exacerbate the difficulties for Latinas in the state of Texas, who are at the crossroads of inequality and hope.

As the United States faces a scenario of restrictions and setbacks for US-Latinas, there exists a stark contrast of progress with our neighbor countries in Latin American. Many countries in the global south Latin America have moved toward the decriminalization of abortion and ensures access to reproductive rights. 

Is Latin America the model of decriminalization of abortion and reproductive rights for the United States? In addition, European countries like France are protecting the rights of abortion by not allowing rollbacks like that of what occurred in the United States.

There is still a long way to go for the United States.

We will cover the decriminalization of abortion and reproductive rights in Latin American in our next installment. 

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