Earlier this month, members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus joined the Maternal Health Equity Collaborative, the Texas Women’s Health Caucus, the Austin Justice Coalition, and other stakeholders in a memorial rally to call for the release of the 2022 Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee (MMMRC) and Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Joint Biennial Report. The last report was done in 2020.
The CDC reports that Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. The delay of this report greatly impacts our state legislators, such as Representative Shawn Thierry (D-Houston), who will need this data to draft informed policy during the 88th Texas Legislative Session.
“What we’ve heard before is there’s some sort of medical implicit bias that’s happening where Black women are not being responded to as quickly or that their concerns and medical needs are not being heard,” said Thierry. “Given that we have seen disproportionate deaths, and that this trajectory is getting worse, this evidence further emphasizes the need for the committee’s recommendations to be released.”
Thierry said she was especially concerned about the number of Black women who die from hemorrhaging during or after childbirth. She cited an analysis by the health agency that was partially shared with her and that found the rate of hemorrhaging deaths for Black women increased between 2016 and 2020 while decreasing for other racial and ethnic groups.
In a meeting this month, the DSHS also shared that they would release reviewed death data on hand and make recommendations before the legislative session. Rep. Thierry is optimistic that these will be specifically tailored to address the safety of Black mothers.
“It’s unacceptable that African American women in Texas continue to lead the nation in maternal mortality,” Chair Ron Reynolds stated. “This remains a top priority of TxLBC and we will continue speaking truth to power to end this preventable crisis. It’s shameful that Texas also leads the nation in the highest percentage of uninsured residents, a likely contributor to this issue. We must break this cycle and find solutions immediately!”