Maternal deaths in Texas nearly doubled after the state slashed its family planning budget


A recently published study found that the maternal mortality rate in Texas nearly doubled between 2010 and 2012 — coinciding with the year the state voted to slash its family-planning budget by two thirds.

The study, which was published in the September issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, found that although maternal mortality rates rose slowly from 2006 to 2010, increasing from 18.1 deaths per 100,000 live births to 18.6, the number skyrocketed after that. By 2011 the number was up to 33 deaths per 100,000, and continued to rise to 35.8 by 2014.

As Slate pointed out, that means that 72 women died from pregnancy-related complications in Texas in 2010, and by 2012 that number was 148.

According to NPR, 2011 was the year that Texas's Republican-controlled state legislature decided to yank funding from anything even resembling a Planned Parenthood clinic. That included any clinic with ties to abortion providers — even if the clinic itself didn't perform abortions. All told, 82 clinics shut down in the state that year.

While the authors of the study notes the overlap, it never definitively links the budget cuts to the findings.

"There were some changes in the provision of women's health services in Texas from 2011 to 2015, including the closing of several women's health clinics. Still, in the absence of war, natural disaster or severe economic upheaval, the doubling of a mortality rate within a two-year period in a state with almost 400,000 annual births seems unlikely," the study found.

Although the numbers in Texas are an anomaly, the state isn't an outlier; the United States is one of just eight countries with a maternal mortality rate that is rising rather than decreasing.

According to CNN, the potential reasons for that include obesity-related complications, the rise in popularity of cesarean section births and — unsurprisingly — decreased access to affordable health care among women.