Burud Demands Support for Texas Women’s Health
Gwenn Burud believes that all women should have access to affordable health care, regardless of whether or not they are pregnant. The focus on the abortion debate ignores the lack of health care that is provided to women during pregnancy and after childbirth — leading to high rates of maternal mortality. Studies show that Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. Unfortunately, due to a lack of funding by the Texas Legislature, we are still examining data from 2012 to determine whether or not we should change the way women’s health is treated in Texas.
Texas is not alone in this problem – nationally, maternal mortality is on the rise. Priya Agrawal, Executive Director of Merck for Mothers, writes, “Between 1990 and 2013, the maternal mortality ratio for the USA more than doubled from an estimated 12 to 28 maternal deaths per 100,000 births and the country has now a higher ratio than those reported for most high-income countries and the Islamic Republic of Iran, Libya and Turkey. About half of all maternal deaths in the USA preventable.” The lack of access to medical care during pregnancy and immediately after pregnancy has led to a large number of these deaths. Under Medicaid, a woman loses access to medical care sixty days after giving birth, regardless of complications that might have arisen during that time. This leads to a gap in coverage where women are only covered while they are pregnant – and not while they are trying to raise their children. Additionally, Texas has a high rate of uninsured individuals – we rank last in the United States – 16.6% of our neighbors do not have medical insurance.
Women with pre-existing conditions, especially in rural or low-income communities, are more at risk for developing pregnancy complications or suffer maternal death. Coupled with the “delay and denial” that women experience when they are seeking medical attention, women are left especially vulnerable while they are experiencing pregnancy complications or post-delivery complications. The cuts to family planning services passed by Republicans in past sessions led to the closure of many clinics, not just those affiliated with Planned Parenthood. Additionally, statistics collected by the CDC Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System show “considerable racial disparities in pregnancy-related mortality,” revealing that ratios of “12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births for white women”; “43.5 deaths per 100,000 live births for black women”; and “14.4 deaths per 100,000 live births for women of other races.” This stark difference in outcomes for women of color should be a wake-up call for all Texans. We cannot continue to only focus on whether or not a woman has a child – access to medical care for all women needs to become a priority for Texas.
- Bulletin of the World Health Organization, “Maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States of America”
- Centers for Disease Control – Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System