For Immediate Release
Contact: Peter Clark, 512-473-2274
Legislators Recently Extended the Task Force and Urged Action to Address the State Crisis
Austin – This Friday a state task force will meet in Austin to address Texas’ maternal mortality crisis, an issue that Governor Greg Abbott and legislative leaders described as a priority during the recent special session of the Texas Legislature. The 10:00 am meeting with be broadcast online.
According to a 2016 study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Texas leads the country in the rate of women who die from pregnancy-related causes. In its 2016 report, the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force found that, while Texas women of all backgrounds have died during pregnancy, childbirth, or the weeks after delivery, a disproportionately high number of Black women have died of pregnancy-related causes. Black women and women in south and east Texas also bear greater risk of severe pregnancy complications, such as hemorrhage or blood transfusion.
“We’re pleased to see the Task Force continuing the critical job of understanding why so many new Texas moms are dying and figuring out what the Legislature, other state leaders, health professionals, and communities can do about it,” said Adriana Kohler, Senior Health Policy Analyst at Texans Care for Children. “It was great to see so many state leaders passionately speaking out about this crisis during the recent special session. As the Task Force develops recommendations, we will need state leaders to show that same level of passion for implementing strategies to save the lives of Texas moms. As a children’s organization, we also know that if we want babies and kids to be healthy, then we need to support healthier pregnancies and healthier moms.”
Numerous state leaders have spoken out about the urgency of addressing the crisis. Governor Abbott, for example, said: “As Governor, I am committed to doing everything we can to combat the maternal mortality rate in this state.” Senator Charles Schwertner, the Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said the “[h]igh maternal mortality rate is unacceptable & needs to be addressed.”
During the special session, legislators passed SB 17 to extend the life of the Task Force to 2023, allow it to continue its critical work to review cases of pregnancy-related deaths and complications, evaluate disparities and trends, and make recommendations on ways to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity in the state.
During the regular legislative session, legislators passed HB 2466 by Representative Sarah Davis and Senator Joan Huffman to allow up to 200,000 more Texas women to receive post-partum depression screenings during their babies’ well-check visits. Several other bills to support maternal health failed to come up for a vote in the House or Senate during the session, such as HB 2599 by Representative Jessica Farrar to provide Medicaid coverage to uninsured low-wage mothers for a year after delivering a baby. Currently, Texas ends Medicaid coverage for mothers two months after delivery.
Additional information on Friday’s meeting is available here.
Additional information on the Task Force is available here.
Additional information on SB 17 and maternal deaths in Texas is available here.