Emergency contraception is not widely available to the poorest Texas

Governor Greg Abbott said rape victims can take Plan B. But emergency contraception isn’t widely available to the state’s poorest people.It was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs — and interacts with — Texans about public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.

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On Friday, Governor. Greg Abbott She told the Dallas Morning News that rape victims can take emergency contraception, such as Plan B, to prevent pregnancy. With abortion now banned in Texas, even in cases of incest or rape, the governor has recommended the use of emergency contraception to ensure a rape victim does not get pregnant.

But for low-income people in Texas, emergency contraception isn’t widely available, advocates said — a result of the large number of people of childbearing age who are uninsured, and the state’s lack of programs that provide access to treatment like Plan B.

During a pre-recorded clip from Lone Star Politics, Abbott said Rape victims, “By getting health care right away, they can get the Plan B pill that can prevent pregnancy from happening in the first place. As far as reporting this to law enforcement, this will ensure that the rapist is caught and prosecuted.”

Emergency contraception works primarily by stopping fertilization. The treatment can prevent a woman from becoming pregnant if it is taken for up to five days after sex, with varying effectiveness.

And in cases of rape, Abbott said, “We want to support these victims, but these victims can also get health care right away, and also report it.”

After signing Senate Bill 8 last September, which banned abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy and made no exceptions for rape or incest, Abbott said The state’s goal was to eradicate rape.

When asked about how the state plans to provide emergency contraception to low-income Texas, Abbott spokeswoman Rina Eazy said, “We urge any rape victim to seek medical help immediately. Medical care includes hospitals and emergency rooms.” Access to Plan B medications that can prevent pregnancy.”

some studies They suggested that emergency contraception containing levonorgestrel, such as Plan B, may be less effective for people who weigh more than 170 pounds, which is average weight of women Over the age of 20 in the state.

in 2020, Texas is ranked 16th in the country of the total number of forced rape cases per capita.

No significant number of rapes have been reported, said Emile Whitehurst, chief executive of the Houston Women’s Center, and the actual number of victims is higher than those seeking treatment in a hospital.

Whitehurst added that emergency contraception is no substitute for access to abortion in any way, but those responsible for the abortion ban in Texas have left sexual assault victims with few options. She said it was disgraceful to hear that Plan B should be relied upon to prevent pregnancy given the risks already faced by victims of sexual assault.

“The assumption that Plan B could be an alternative to abortion care is a fundamental misunderstanding of the realities of women’s lives and our biology,” Whitehurst said.

While emergency contraception is available to buy without a prescription, it can cost $50 at a drugstore. Some insurance plans cover the cost of emergency contraception, but those who don’t have insurance must charge for those additional expenses.

For women of childbearing age in Texas, More than a quarter do not have health insurance in 2017 – Highest rate in the nation. This is partly because Texas has not expanded Medicaid and has one of the lowest eligibility standards in the state. A single parent with three children would have to earn less than $400 a month Eligible for Medicaid.

In addition to a lack of coverage, state programs targeting women’s health care do not provide emergency contraception. No family planning program Texas Women’s Health Program Providing emergency contraception.

Title X Clinics remains one of the clinics Few options Low-income people have access to affordable emergency contraception. However, not every community in the state operates federally funded reproductive health clinics.

Whitehurst said guaranteed access to emergency contraception is “fantastic thinking.” She said young sexual assault victims, in particular, will struggle to access this type of contraceptive.

“It’s not easily available, it’s not easy to afford, and it’s an indefensible solution to the terrible situation that women now find themselves in without access to an abortion,” Whitehurst said.

In the case of rape victims, the immediate need to seek emergency contraception compounds the trauma the survivor is already experiencing, said Zhao Nguyen, a trauma therapist at JEM Wellness & Counseling in Houston. Low-income Texas women and women of color already face barriers to accessing health care, which includes emergency contraception, Nguyen said in a statement to The Texas Tribune.

“The sad reality is that women will choose to put food on the table to feed their children over their own health care. This can seriously put their lives at risk,” Nguyen said.

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This article originally appeared in . format Texas Tribune in https://www.texastribune.org/2022/09/03/em Emergency-contraception-access-rape-victim-abbott/.

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