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The fertility rate of teens in Texas rose for the first time in 15 years in 2022, with Hispanic teens at the top of the list of pregnancies for this demographic. The emerging trend is being attributed to the six-week state abortion ban which took effect in 2021, a University of Houston study reveals.

Concretely, Texas women delivered 16,147 more babies in 2022 than in 2021. Of those, 13,503 babies, or 84% of the additional babies, were delivered by Latinas, according to the study.

Latinas of all ages experienced the biggest increase in births and fertility rates compared to other racial or ethnic groups in the state in the period analyzed.

Texas' teen birth rate increased slightly overall, while the U.S. teen birth rate remained steady. Hispanic, Asian and Black teens all had varying increases in their rates, while figures for non-Hispanic whites continued to decline.

Among Texas' Hispanic teens, the rate rose 1.2%, or an increase from 27.22 to 27.56 births per 1,000. For non-Hispanic white teens, the fertility rate fell 5%, from 11.71 births to 11.13 births per 1,000. On the other hand, the fertility rate for black teens rose by 0.5%, or 22.29 to 22.40. For Asian teens it rose by 8.2%, a larger ratio because of smaller numbers, 1.42 births to 1.58 births per 1,000.

The study suggests the main reason for these new trends are the strict abortion bans placed in the state of Texas last year, following the overturning of the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court. This decision triggered a series of legal actions across the country to try to either enshrine abortion, like Colorado, or restrict it, like Florida.

"We don't see any other reason," Elizabeth Gregory, the director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality at the University of Houston, told NBC News.

Texas' enacted one of the harshest abortion restrictions in the country in 2021. The policy prohibits women from getting an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, which is usually before many women find out they are indeed pregnant.

Bans of this nature tend to disproportionately affect minorities. In the case of Texas, the study shows that Latinas have seen the highest impact.

"Travel to access abortion in other states requires money, time off and, in many cases, child care. The need to care for children already at home might be a key factor in the rising birth rates among women 25 and older," Gregory said.

Latinos, who outnumber non-Hispanic white people in Texas, are the group least likely to have health insurance in the state, which leads the country in uninsured residents, NBC News reports.

Lupe M. Rodriguez, the executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, said the numbers in the study confirm what her organization has been seeing on the ground since Texas' near-total abortion ban went into effect.

"Unfortunately, this new report is not surprising," Rodriguez said. "Folks are entirely disconnected from any kind of reproductive health care, including abortion."

Minorities, particularly Latinos, in Texas have endured long-standing inequality in access to health and reproductive care, even before the abortion ban, Rodriguez adds. This has led to poor health outcomes for children and mothers, and they will continue for years to come.

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