Study: Nearly half of Texas pregnancies unplanned

Published On: Jul 24 2012 04:50:00 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 25 2012 03:47:39 PM CDT
HOUSTON -

A new report found that more than half of all pregnancies in Texas are unplanned.

Morag Macdonald is the proud mother of a 4-month-old daughter. The new mom saidshe and her husband we not actively trying to get pregnant but were OK if it happened.

"We had been off birth control for a couple of months, but we hadn't been actively trying. Then, the first month, which was on my birthday, we got pregnant," said Macdonald.

Macdonald falls into more of a "planned" surprise category since she was hoping for a baby, which put her in the minority in Texas.

The Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health estimates 57 to 62 percent of Lone Star babies are unplanned.

"To a degree, it is surprising because you would think that the Internet age the information pretty much is out there. We all know how to protect ourselves from pregnancy," said Gabriela Gerhart, the founder of the Motherhood Center. "You would think the number would be decreasing."

But it isn't decreasing. The numbers of unplanned pregnancies in the United States have remained about the same for the last three decades. Across the country, the average is 37 percent of babies born were unintended pregnancies.

A study/survey by the National Center for Health Statistics, a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, interviewed 12,000 women from 2006 to 2010 and offered more details to the numbers.

One in four married women had unplanned births. Half of pregnant women living with the fathers did not plan the pregnancy and 67 percent of woman not living with the father of their child called the birth unplanned.

The survey also found half of the babies born to women in their early 20s are unplanned. A majority of the unplanned moms are not college graduates and almost half have never earned a high school diploma.

Rochelle Tafolla with Planned Parenthood - Gulf Coast said it comes down to money.

"There is a link to unintended pregnancy and access to health care. There have been enormous advances in birth control and there so many different methods and options to choose from depending on their life, but the main factor is affordability and accessibility. Women and their partners need to have access to information on how to prevent a pregnancy and certainly have access to effective birth control," said Tafolla.

With one in four women in Texas going without insurance, Tafolla said the numbers are not surprising.

"It is difficult for them to have access to the most affordable and effective birth control," said Tafolla.

Tafolla said the coming changes to health care, if enacted, may offer some reprieve from the numbers.

"Through the Affordable Care Act, more and more women will have access to an OB/GYN doctor to get birth control. Really expanding that will help the one in four women that lack health insurance, and that is really the biggest barrier," Tafolla said.