A 2016 University of Maryland study found that Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate of the entire developed world. But despite knowing that this was a problem for years, lawmakers have done nothing to address it, the Associated Press reports.
Pregnancy-related deaths in Texas doubled in just two years between 2010 and 2012, according to the study. The number of maternal deaths for every 100,000 births was between 17.7 and 18.6 from 2000-2010, 33 in 2011, and 35.8 in 2014, The Guardian reports. The state's maternal mortality task force also found that black moms were disproportionately likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth. Black women make up 28 percent of maternal deaths despite constituting only 11 percent of births.
Texas was the state with the highest maternal death rate, but this problem affects the whole country. The U.S. and Mexico are the two Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries with the highest maternal death rates. And a 2016 Vox analysis of CDC data found that while the maternal death rate in most countries had gone down, the U.S.'s had doubled since 1987. It also found that Black women had over triple the chances white women did of dying in childbirth.
Proposed measures to deal with this problem in Texas weren't even voted on. Lawmakers won't have another opportunity to discuss them until 2019, when their next session begins. One measure that would have kept the task force around longer to research this issue died when lawmakers killed a whole bunch of bills over unrelated pet issues.
"We had a chance to move the needle and we really failed to do so," Republican Sen. Lois Kolkhorst told the AP. "Certainly, as we develop in medicine, we can do better to take care of women in today's society versus past societies. I'm very disappointed."