Pregnancy-related deaths in Texas doubled after the state drastically cut funding for Planned Parenthood and other women’s health programs in 2011, according to a study in the September issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology. While maternal mortality rates had been seeing modest increases in Texas between 2000 and 2010, researchers said that the increase in deaths between 2010 and 2012 due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth — from 72 to 148 — was “puzzling.”
The study did not offer a clear cause for the dramatic increase, but the spike coincided with a 66 percent slash to family planning funds in the 2011 state budget. The cuts forced 82 family planning clinics to close — a third of which were Planned Parenthood clinics — leaving Texas women’s health programs able to serve less than half the women they served previously. According to The Los Angeles Times, the changes led to an increase in rates of pregnancy for low-income women as access to affordable birth control became less available.
Researchers warned against assuming too much, however, suggesting that the shocking increase in deaths was too large to be explained solely by budget cuts to women’s health. “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,” researchers wrote.
Read the full story at The Huffington Post.