Texas Has The Highest Maternal Mortality Rate in the Developed World
A recent study published in the Medical Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that the national rate of maternal mortality rose 26 percent from 2000 to 2014, but Texas’ problem is in a category all by itself.
The number of women in Texas dying during pregnancy, childbirth or the first few postpartum weeks (otherwise: “maternal mortality”) has been skyrocketing. From 2010 to 2014, Texas’ maternal mortality rate doubled from 18% to 36%, which is described in the study as, “not normal for any country in the developed world.”
Additionally, the researchers concluded that the current environment in Texas was actually “hard to explain in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval.”
Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies. According to the Guardian, “in 2011, just as the spike began, the Texas state legislature cut $73.6m from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5m. The two-thirds cut forced more than 80 family planning clinics to shut down across the state. The remaining clinics managed to provide services — such as low-cost or free birth control, cancer screenings and well-woman exams — to only half as many women as before.”
Now, health-care experts know what leads to maternal health: good access to care, adequate funding of services and the general health of the larger population. Unfortunately, however, Texas already ranks near the bottom of nearly every one of these metrics. The State has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the country, for example.
“...in 2011, just as the spike began, the Texas state legislature cut $73.6m from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5m. The two-thirds cut forced more than 80 family planning clinics to shut down across the state.”
What all of this data suggests is that, Texas’s maternal healthcare system apparently wasn’t anywhere near a real position to actually survive the budget cuts and these cuts quite possibly encouraged the dramatic increase in the State’s maternal mortality rate, leaving some 600 women dead and arguably making Texas one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a pregnant woman.
“…hard to explain in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval.”
The definitive impact of the funding cuts is currently considered undetermined, however it is hard to imagine a reality where losing these resources in an already-struggling environment doesn’t lead to increased deaths. As Mattie Quinn put it plainly, “residents do lose out when clinics shut down without an immediate replacement.”
HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
Planned Parenthood is one of the central organizations advocating for improved maternal mortality. They do a lot for women, especially low-income and at-risk women, but effectively, Planned Parenthood creates healthier communities by providing comprehensive reproductive and related healthcare services, delivers science-based education programs, and acts as a strong advocate for women’s health in Texas.
Meaning, they help improve maternal mortality in Texas. Which is exactly what we want to do too.