Being pregnant in Texas should not be this dangerous

The Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Investigation Commission recently released a report on deaths occurring during pregnancy through the first 12 months of pregnancy. In 2019, more than 50 Texans died of reasons directly related to pregnancy, according to reports. This was an unacceptable number. Many others have experienced severe pregnancy complications that can lead to long-term maternal health consequences.

The panel found that deaths during pregnancy often have multiple causes, but more than half of the contributing factors occur at the provider, health facility, or health system level. Ninety percent of these pregnancy-related deaths are considered preventable and require policy change at the state level.

Another important point: deaths and severe complications occur disproportionately among the black community in Texas and those without private insurance.

We are not surprised by these findings. Research clearly shows how unequal access to quality care and systemic racism undermine people’s health and well-being before, during and after pregnancy.

Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured residents because state policymakers have not expanded Medicaid, but Medicaid expansion is supported by most Texans, and maternal mortality Comprehensive Medicaid coverage helps people manage health conditions that, if left untreated, can increase the risk of pregnancy complications. , may also provide access to treatments for depression and substance use disorders, which are common causes of pregnancy-related death.

Our research shows that women of color without insurance or public insurance are more likely than white women to report health care barriers. In another study, a low-income Texan frequently reported serious and ongoing postnatal health conditions that she could not cope with because she had no insurance 60 days after giving birth when Medicaid or her CHIP coverage ended. I understand that you are.

Because more than a quarter of all pregnancy-related deaths in Texas occur between 2 and 12 months postpartum, the State of Texas provides all low-income Texans with a Publicly funded insurance coverage should be extended. 27 states do this. Why not Texas?

Texas can also do more to address discrimination, which accounts for 12% of deaths. Efforts should be made to engage and listen to the calls of black women’s advocates to expand access to doulas that have been shown to improve pregnancy outcomes.

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