Jan 25, 2024 - World

Texas fertility rate grew after abortion ban — almost only due to Latinas

Texas fertility rates, by race/ethnicity
Data: University of Houston Institute for Research on Women, Gender & Sexuality; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

The fertility rate in Texas increased for the first time in eight years in 2022 — the year after the state passed its six-week abortion ban — but the growth is driven mostly by Hispanic women, a new analysis finds.

Why it matters: The report indicates Hispanic women are disproportionately affected by abortion restrictions in the state. It also offers a window into how bans or near-total bans across the country may play out over time.

  • Nearly half of U.S. states banned or heavily restricted abortion since the fall of Roe v. Wade in 2022.

Details: Using CDC birth data for 2022, the University of Houston's Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality sought to gauge what effect the abortion ban had on fertility rates.

  • The researchers found that the overall fertility rate in Texas grew by 2%, but that figure is skewed by the much larger growth among Hispanic women, about 5%.
  • Texas in 2021 banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — before most women know they are pregnant — and in 2022 banned all abortions after the fall of Roe v. Wade.
  • White and Black (non-Hispanic) women in Texas had a decrease in their fertility rates in 2022, while Asian women's rate grew .9%

Hispanic women ages 25-44 had the largest increase — 8%.

  • Nationwide, fertility rates have been steadily dropping for years (nearly 20% from 2007 to 2022), in part due to increased access to contraception.

Zoom in: The analysis also found that, for the first time in 15 years, Texas registered an increase in teens' fertility rate in 2022, though it has continued to decline nationwide.

  • The rate went from 20.32 to 20.4 births per 1,000 teens, a .39% rise.
  • Hispanic teens had the highest spike (1.2%), while white non-Hispanic teens saw their rate drop by 5%.

What they're saying: Lupe M. Rodríguez, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, tells Axios Latino the findings are not surprising.

  • "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," Rodríguez says, referring to the 2021 ban.
  • "And we know from our own specific work with the Latine community that it's incredibly impossible for our community to get this care," she adds. "It's a pretty devastating piece of data to substantiate what we were already seeing anecdotally on the ground."
  • Latinos have long had less access to health care, Rodríguez says. Plus, Latinos are more likely to work jobs with little flexibility and unstable hours, making it difficult to travel out of state for abortion care, she adds.

Between the lines: The markedly larger fertility rate increase among Hispanic women over 25 years old is likely partly because many of those women already have children, complicating efforts to travel out of state for care, according to the analysis.

  • Roughly a quarter of all women who get abortions nationwide are already parents, according to CDC data.
  • "Folks who have families are already probably stretched in terms of economics, they're probably having less time on their hands to be able to make these long trips to be able to get care and so all of these things really connect to what we're seeing across the country and certainly in Texas," Rodríguez says.

What to watch: IRWGS director Elizabeth Gregory says researchers now need to look more in-depth into geographic and socioeconomic data to learn more about why Hispanic women saw such a significant increase.

Subscribe to Axios Latino to get vital news about Latinos and Latin America, delivered to your inbox on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Go deeper