Don't Forget About Texas

With a new healthcare bill approaching a vote in the Senate, and potentially 22 million people (via Congressional Budget Office report) left uninsured, we've been reflecting on the data at the state level. Specifically, those states that have stepped up to dedicate more resources to maternal health versus those that have not. Our Co-Founder, Lilly Schott, takes on the two largest states in this post.

I struggled about what to call this post. I struggled to even begin writing it. I am not from Texas. I have never lived there. I’ve visited and loved it. But there is a lot of state “mind your own business” rhetoric around these days. Do I have the right to comment on what’s going on in Texas? Ultimately, you know I answered 'yes' to that question, or you’d be reading precisely nothing right now.

Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the US. It also has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world if you think of it like its own country. It’s big enough to be its own country, like California, so data has been extrapolated to see how it would fare when compared to other countries, not just other states. Unlike California, which has seen a 67% reduction in maternal mortality in recent years, more mothers are dying in Texas every year. Bills aimed at increasing health coverage and access for Texans have been squashed, despite the overwhelming data that this alone can help protect a mother’s health.

When it comes to issues of gender rights, equality, and access to healthcare, states often behave as if they’d like to be their own country. They want their own rules to uphold their own unique sensibilities and values. But hey, who doesn’t value a mother making it to her child’s first birthday? That MUST be a value all Americans cherish, right? As an outsider, not a Texan, am I supposed to ignore the gaping wound in my own country? Go fix whatever is wrong back home? Many have described the situation in Texas as an embarrassment, and although that may be fair, I think we should call it what it really is: a series of tragedies. If more than 100 mothers died in a fire in Texas, we would band together. Volunteers from different states would pour in to help the bereaved families and we would look at what had happened and make changes. Somehow, the slow burn of maternal deaths has escaped nationwide attention and effective action.

I care about mothers. I don’t care if they are from my state or your state or Texas (or really Timbuktu). Mothers shape so much of this world, and its our duty to protect them. They certainly protect us. How can we help Texas? And I am hoping the answer isn’t, “By minding my own business.” Too late for that.