Report: Black Women In Texas Face The Highest Maternal Mortality Rate In The Country
African-American women are succumbing to a maternity mortality epidemic in Texas. A recent feature story in the Los Angeles Times depicts the game of roulette pregnant black women are subjected to due to poor access to healthcare and other social-economic factors.
The maternal death rate in Texas reached a significantly high rate in comparison to the rest of the country, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist. Amongst pregnant women, black women are dying at higher rates, Jezebel reports.
A 2016 report by the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force found that 11.4 percent of black women became mothers in 2011 and 2012, but accounted for 28.8 percent of deaths in relation to pregnancy.
Because of Texas’ strict anti-abortion laws, healthcare for women in the state has floundered. Additionally, it has the highest rate of uninsured women in the country.
“In an ideal world, a woman would have the opportunity to have a visit with a physician before she becomes pregnant to identify any potential risk factors before she gets pregnant,” Dr. Lisa Hollier, an OB/GYN who heads the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force told The Times. “Then a woman would enter prenatal in her first trimester. Unfortunately, African American women are the least likely to have that first trimester of prenatal care.”
“Texas public health officials say they are concerned about the state’s high maternal mortality rate but they don’t believe cuts to women’s health clinics are to blame,” writes Ann Simmons, “noting that the decrease in funding did not take effect until after the increase in maternal mortality had been reported.”
Still, a common issue black women face when accessing proper prenatal care is also discrimination. It’s speculated that medical professionals don’t take black women’s health as serious— due to underlying racial microaggressions and stereotypes that arise when pregnancy occurs.
“We know there are instances where [African American mothers] are not given the proper level of attention and care because of assumptions that doctors and hospitals are making about them,” said Houston Rep. Shawn Thierry.