Despite the fact that it's been proven time and time again that abstinence-only sex education doesn't work, a number of states continue to teach it in place of actual sex ed. A lack of sex education is directly linked to higher teen pregnancy rates, and Texas is a prime example of why access to contraception and sex ed are so important.
Researchers at the University of Florida-Pensacola found that teen birth rates in the Lone Star State are between 40 percent and 50 percent higher than the national average. Texas has the fifth highest teen pregnancy rate in the country (Arkansas takes the top spot), with a staggering 35,000 teen births in 2014 alone.
Although low income and low education are frequently cited as the top predictors of teen pregnancy, comprehensive research shows that it's far more complicated. As Gwen Daverth, CEO of the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, told NPR, policies engineered by conservative lawmakers leaves teens woefully unprepared for safe sex.
Cities and states that provide comprehensive sex education and access to contraception have seen decreases in teen pregnancy. By limiting girls' access to these crucial resources and closing 31 of the state's 74 Planned Parenthood clinics, it's hardly surprising that teen pregnancy rates are so high in Texas.
"What we see is there are not supports in place," Daverth told NPR. "We're not connecting high-risk youth with contraception services. And we're not supporting youth in making decisions to be abstinent."
Twenty-five percent of Texas school districts don't offer sex education, and nearly 60 percent teach abstinence-only programs. This leaves teens with inaccurate information about how to protect themselves when they make the decision to have sex.
Nurx, a birth control delivery service, has launched an effort to provide contraception to Texas teens. Women and girls can get a prescription for birth control from one of Nurx's doctors and have it delivered straight to their door. The service is free for those with health insurance, and costs as little as $15 per month for girls and women who pay out-of-pocket.
For women without health insurance, Nurx is giving away up to two months of free birth control through their app. Users simply need to enter the promo code 'TEXAS' at checkout.