In 2012, Texas faced a horrifying medical mystery. Women were dying of pregnancy-related causes, and it wasn’t clear why. Texas’ 2012 maternal mortality rate was nearly six times higher than California’s, the state with the lowest maternal mortality rate.

Thanks to the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force convened by the Texas Legislature in 2013, we have a clearer understanding of why Texas mothers are dying more frequently than those in other states. Now in 2019, we have a chance to do something about it — if enough voters get involved.

Like any complex issue, the task force’s findings about maternal mortality were complex. There wasn’t just one reason why Texas women were dying more frequently than others; there were multiple reasons.

Women were dying from a variety of pregnancy-related causes, from heart attacks to hemorrhages. However, the task force concluded nearly 4 out of 5 women’s deaths were potentially preventable. It recommended ensuring women have access to medical care for a full year after delivery to identify and treat problems as they arose.

With this recommendation in mind, the Texas Legislature jumped into action again. In January, State Rep. Sarah Davis introduced House Bill 1110, which expands Medicaid coverage for women from 60 days after delivery to one full year. In 2012, roughly 7 out of 10 women who died were enrolled in Medicaid at the time of their children’s births, but this medical coverage only lasted for 60 days after delivery, leaving many of these women without access to life-saving care.

It’s impossible to overstate how important mothers are to their children and to the stability of our society. Mothers are primary caregivers, a source of love, compassion and guidance. It would be morally unconscionable for us to decline the opportunity to ensure more children experience their mothers’ care. It would be foolish for us to save comparative pennies by depriving women of the medical care that could ensure they’re alive to raise their children. It would be economically irresponsible for us to cut costs now when the costs to the state later in that child’s life in the form of state services will almost certainly be greater.

If passed, House Bill 1110 would enable Texas women to have the medical care they need. However, the Texas legislature is only in session for three more weeks. Your help is needed to ensure House Bill 1110 receives a vote.

Google “who represents me?” to identify your Texas representative and state senator. Call and tell them you would like to see House Bill 1110 voted on and passed before May 27. Tell your representatives that Texas women, children and families are relying on them. Tell them House Bill 1110 is about ensuring all Texas families have a strong start. Ask them to vote in favor of House Bill 1110.

Amara Mattingly is a public policy and government affairs intern, and Bob Sanborn is president and CEO of Children at Risk, which is a Texas based research and advocacy group. Sanborn also is executive editor of the Journal of Applied Research on Children and the Journal of Family Strengths.

(1) comment

Randy Chapman

Here's a novel idea; don't have children until you pay for your and their care.

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