Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Report shows Austin leads state in reproductive freedom

Emma George

Austin is the leading major city in Texas for reproductive freedom, according to a report published by the National Institute for Reproductive Health on Feb. 7.

The 2023 Local Reproductive Freedom Index rated Austin with three out of five stars, one and a half stars higher than the five other major Texas cities surveyed from Jan. 1, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2022. The report also labeled Austin among “the top five abortion-forward cities in banned states with anti-abortion state majorities” for achievements related to family and community support.

“We like to think of reproductive freedom as being able to decide if, when and under what conditions to have a child,” said Laura Dixon, a Resound Research for Reproductive Health spokesperson. “If you do decide to have a child, having access to medical care through the prenatal and into the postnatal periods, financial support and benefits for that child.” 

The report said Austin was also the only Texas city to increase its score since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the right to abortion, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in 2022. 

Although Austin has stopped funding practical support like travel costs for abortions, Dixon said local legislation advancing affordable housing and the Medical Access Program, which provides health insurance coverage for low-income residents, are “good for supporting children who are already here but also access to contraception in the city.” 

Austin also passed the Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone (GRACE) Act in July 2022, which partially decriminalized abortion by making the enforcement of abortion penalties a low-priority for police. 

Motivated by the new reproductive health landscape in Texas, Frances Cates and Niels Levy-Thiebaut, officers of Emergency Contraception for Every Campus, are collecting data by surveying student perceptions of the use and safety of emergency contraception. Cates said a big priority of the organization is to emphasize “the efficacy and safety of emergency contraception.”

“I think there are a lot of fears (contraception) will cause infertility or it will cause some kind of long term reproductive issue to take it repeatedly, when it really is a very safe drug,” Cates said.

Levy-Theibaut said they hope to use the survey data to make emergency contraception more accessible. They have already collaborated with University Health Services to establish UT’s contraception delivery programs at Tarrytown Pharmacy and Trinity Street’s H-E-B. 

Students for Planned Parenthood supports reproductive freedom through off-campus contraception distributions, educational meetings and fundraisers. Leela Antyakula, the publicity coordinator for Students for Planned Parenthood and a biochemistry and sociology junior, said the Dobbs decision inspired her to to volunteer, and that she has since seen the organization’s impact on campus.

“It’s all about getting involved, because once you take that first step it opens so many doors for you,” Antyakula said. “Being on campus, it is significantly easier to find resources because there’s so many small student-led organizations that promote sexual health and wellness.”

Antyakula said other key ways students can work to advance reproductive freedom are voting and making their voices heard. 

“The votes matter — the laws matter,” Antyakula said. “Showing up for things like marches, protests, the polls and just knowing politically what is happening, I feel is really important.”

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About the Contributor
Emma George, Comics Editor
Emma is currently a Spring 2023 Comics Editor. She is a junior civil engineering major whoe loves to draw, read, and visiting art museums. She has previously been a Comics sStaffer and Comics Senior Illustrator.