It’s been a wildly frustrating year for organizations like Planned Parenthood, which have been subject to ongoing controversy and legislative strife. However one state has been among the hardest hit — Texas.
Maternal deaths nearly doubled in the Lone Star State between 2010 and 2012, and it turns out that may not be a coincidence. NPR reported that 2011 was the year that Texas’s Republic-led state legislature pulled two thirds of its funding from maternal wellness clinics and contraceptive centers like Parent Parenthood.
A study published by Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that maternal mortality rose slowly between 2006 and 2010 and then increased dramatically — from 18.6 deaths per 100,000 live births to 33 by 2011.
Dr. Moss Hampton, district chairman for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told NPR in January that while the Legislature’s primary target was quelling abortions, it had major wide scale implications on maternal and pregnancy health.
“So you had programs that would help patients pay for physician visits, obstetrical care, gynecological care, Pap smears,” Hampton said. “When all of that funding was removed and cut, a large number of women didn’t have the means to pay for access to those services.”
Texas’s legislative efforts led to the closure of 82 clinics across the state, many of which had never performed an abortion, Slate noted. This led many mothers to lose access to both prenatal care during pregnancy and contraceptives, compromising the health and wellness of thousands of young women.
According to researchers from the Population Center at the University of Texas, Austin, the lack of contraceptive services caused the state birth rate to rise 27 percent during this time.
Unfortunately the challenges to maternal health is not Texas–specific — The United States is one of eight countries where the maternal mortality rate is rising, which CNN reports may be in tandem with rising obesity rates, the increase of cesarean sections and lack of affordable health care to pregnant woman.
The national maternal mortality rate in the U.S. was 7.2 deaths per 100,00 live births in 1987, and rose to 17.8 deaths by 2011. Pretty shocking. It’s time for us to band together to keep our future mothers healthy