This week, Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP), a project at the University of Texas that studies the impacts of legislation on access to reproductive healthcare, released a study showing that changes to the Title X family planning program created barriers to birth control access for Texas teens.

According to the research, the budgetary changes created in 2011 when Texas passed legislation specifically to cut Planned Parenthood out of Title X provision created confusion for both teens and providers alike, making it harder to navigate the labyrinth of rules regarding minors’ ability to consent to their own birth control. Texas requires parental consent for minors accessing birth control ,but Title X federal family planning program can provide birth control without parental consent. The problem is that an ever-shifting landscape of providers in the Title X program and the lack of accessibility of Medicaid, which also provides minors access to birth control without parental consent, creates a system where it’s extremely difficult for youth to get accurate information to navigate their options.

That’s why our text hotline is such a vital service for Texas youth. The text hotline started in 2017 with a simple idea of connecting Texas youth with the information about their nearest Title X provider so that they can access birth control. Since then we’ve seen just how essential this support is. Our hotline is not a bot response program — a live volunteer is on the other end of the line, providing the teens who text us with the most accurate, up-to-date information on birth control access possible. Live volunteers can also help the teens who text us figure out a plan of action for getting to and from providers, offer emotional support, and talk about how to advocate for themselves in a medical setting.

This study from TxPEP shows just how essential this text hotline is for making sure young people can exercise their reproductive rights. Currently we provide the text hotline because we know lack of information is a huge barrier to access, but ultimately what we need is an end to parental involvement laws for birth control. Young people deserve to make their own decisions for themselves free from reproductive oppression.

Want to be part of this work? Click here to donate to support our text hotline, and sign up here to receive emails so you can find out how to become a volunteer on the text hotline and empower youth directly by answering their questions. Despite all the barriers, together we can fight back.

If you’re a young person in Texas who need anonymous information and support to exercise your reproductive rights to birth control or abortion, text us at 1-866-999-5263. All communication is completely anonymous, and you’ll get connected with folks interested in making sure you get stigma-free support.