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State Lawmakers File Bill To Lower Repeat Teen Pregnancies

By Terry Gildea, Texas Public Radio

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-820868.mp3

Dallas, TX –

Senator Leticia Van De Putte and Representative Mike Villareal have sponsored three bills that would allow teen moms 16 years and older who already have a child access to family planning services. Those costs would be covered by the Children's Health Insurance Program or CHIP. But the services would not include abortion or emergency contraception. Dr. Janet Realini is President of Healthy Futures, a group dedicated to reducing teen pregnancies. She says the legislation would help women make better choices about when to have their second child.

Realini: It's that we want parents to be prepared. Physically, emotionally, financially, educationally, we want them to be able to have things ready to welcome that child.

Van De Putte and Villareal filed a more comprehensive bill in the last legislative session to decrease the number of unintended pregnancies. They had the support of only three Republicans. Among them were San Antonio Senator Jeff Wentworth and Representative Joe Straus. Strauss has now become House Speaker. Van De Putte says the window to pass these bills may finally be open.

VanDePutte: Senator Wentworth is already very very supportive and has said that he will help us through the Senate. Speaker Strauss has not indicated one way or another on any bill. But what he has said is that he going to let the will of the house work.

Villareal says Strauss won't be directly supporting the bills, but sees his role as facilitator to make the legislature work.

Villareal: As long as the process is allowed to work so that we can vote our districts and put matters that are important to making differences in families lives first, I think these bills go further in the process and their odds of passage are much greater.

Villareal and Van De Putte hope to court lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to support the bills.

Terry Gildea, Texas Public Radio News.