Report: San Antonio Needs to Improve Reproductive Health Access

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MICHAEL BARAJAS
  • Michael Barajas
San Antonio may not be the worst city in the U.S. when it comes to defending reproductive health, but it's far from a shining example, according to a report from the National Institute of Reproductive Health.

The city earned a mediocre two-star ranking in NIRH's 2019 report, which rates 50 cities on a five-star scale on how well they protect residents' reproductive freedom. Among the policies weighed in the report are paid family leave, comprehensive sex ed programs, availability of contraception and abortion access.

With four and a half stars, San Francisco ranked the highest, followed by New York and Chicago, which both had four. Not surprisingly, Texas cities — which have endured years of attacks on reproductive health from the Republican-led legislature — skewed low. Highest-ranked Austin won two and a half stars, while El Paso only rated one.

San Antonio earned positive marks in the report for funding STD/STI testing and prevention, providing support for pregnant and parenting youth and having an anti-discrimination ordinance.



However, the city does little to protect abortion access, according to NIRH. It doesn't have a clinic-safety ordinance, for example. Nor does it regulate deceptive practices by anti-abortion pregnancy centers or codify local protections for abortion clinics and providers.

Indeed, the Alamo City has just two abortion clinics, versus 19 pregnancy centers where clients are pushed toward anti-abortion options, according to the report.

And even though teen pregnancy rates are 49% higher than the national average in some San Antonio zip codes, the city doesn't provide a comprehensive sex ed policy, nor does it ensure reproductive health care is available in school-based health centers, according to the data.

"There is a clear urgency for cities to address these challenges and to forge ahead by creating environments where all people truly have the right and ability to choose whether or not to become parents, safeguard their health and well-being, raise their children in safety and security, and fully achieve their own potential," NIHR states in its report.

As the federal government, conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court and states such as Texas direct hostility toward reproductive health choice, cities make up the front line in its defense, the group also points out.

"Mitigating these harms and improving the lives of people in our communities rests on cities’ shoulders," the report says. "There is a clear urgency for cities to address these challenges and to forge ahead by creating environments where all people truly have the right and ability to choose whether or not to become parents, safeguard their health and well-being, raise their children in safety and security, and fully achieve their own potential."

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