The Texas maternal mortality rate has nearly doubled since 2010, from 18.6 per hundred thousand live births to 35.8. This statistic represents 600 dead women in our state between 2010 to 2014. Our rate is the worst in the nation and the highest in the developed world. African-American women in Texas are more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white or Hispanic women.

The journal Obstetrics & Gynecology notes that usually only “war, natural disaster, and severe economic upheaval” explain such a drastic increase in the maternal mortality rate. Absent these conditions in Texas, many cite the state’s chronic defunding of women’s health services as one possible reason for this increase in maternal deaths. For example, in 2011, the state family planning budget was slashed by the legislature, resulting in the closure of 82 family planning clinics and an increase of births covered by Medicaid.

The Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force is set to expire in 2019 and proposed legislation regarding this issue was killed during the 2017 Texas legislature regular session. I urge Rep. Larry Phillips and Sen. Craig Estes to focus on these issues of life and death, not divisive ideological and special-interest issues, as they represent the citizens of our community during the upcoming special session.

Randi Tanglen