We’re still really bad at preventing it, especially for Black women.
At least 118 women dead and nearly 200 children left without a mother.
This was just a portion of the death toll from pregnancy and childbirth in Texas in 2019, according to a long-awaited state report published Thursday.
Severe medical complications from pregnancy and childbirth also increased significantly between 2018 and 2020, surging from 58.2 to 72.7 cases per 10,000 deliveries in Texas.
As in past years, the tragedy of maternal mortality unfolded unevenly across the state, impacting Black women worst of all.
This is the fifth biennial report from the state’s Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee since the Legislature formed it in 2013, and the first to review more timely cases; the previous report reviewed cases from nearly a decade ago.
In 2013, Black women were twice as likely as white women and four times as likely as Hispanic women to die from pregnancy-related causes. A preliminary assessment of 2019 data indicates those trends have persisted.
The report determined that discrimination contributed to 12% of pregnancy-related deaths in 2019. This was the first such report since the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added discrimination, including structural and interpersonal racism, as a potential cause of maternal death. The specific nature of discrimination varied between the cases identified by the committee and did not show a specific trend, the report said.
In 2018, a subcommittee was created to address these continued disparities by helping design a tool to better determine when and if discrimination plays a role in maternal deaths.
The report also found that most of these deaths were preventable — in 90% of 2019 cases reviewed by the committee, there was at least some chance of saving the woman’s life.
See here and here for some background. Easy to see why there might have been political pressure to delay the release of this report until after the election, not that it likely would have mattered. The people who care about this already care, and the people who don’t already don’t. I’ve made my share of pointed observations about the gap between all of the anti-abortion rhetoric and the actual amount this state officially cares about human life; I don’t believe the people who are the problem here are capable of being shamed about it. But as long as we’re talking about abortion:
Obstetric hemorrhage was the leading cause of pregnancy-related death in Texas, accounting for a quarter of cases. While there were fewer severe complications from hemorrhage overall, Black women saw their rate of complications increase nearly 10%.
The most common cause of hemorrhage deaths was ectopic pregnancies, in which a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. Left untreated, these nonviable pregnancies can rupture, causing life-threatening complications such as severe blood loss and sepsis.
You can expect those numbers to continue to go up. The Lege and Greg Abbott will do nothing about it. The Chron has more.