The rate at which women die in Texas from pregnancy-related complications is higher than in any other US state—or even in the rest of the developed world, reports the Guardian. A study in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that the maternal mortality rate in Texas doubled in a two-year span, from about 18 per 100,000 births in 2010—a year with 72 deaths—to about 36 in 2012, which saw 148 deaths. In the 48 states not including Texas and California, the rate was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2014, up 27% from 18.8 in 2000. California was the only state to see a drop. The authors say the hike in the death rate in Texas—no other state saw a similar uptick—is difficult to explain "in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval," per the Guardian.
The Huffington Post notes the rise coincided with the state slashing health care funding for women. Women's health advocates blame a Republican-led state legislature that gutted Texas' family-planning funding by two-thirds—$73.6 million out of its $111.5 million was cut in 2011, the year that maternal deaths spiked—forcing the shuttering of 80 clinics that provided birth control, cancer screenings, and other services. Dr. Lisa Hollier, who heads a state task force looking into the problem, told the Dallas Morning News that they don't "have a specific answer at this time." Dr. Daniel Grossman of the University of Texas at Austin called the study findings a "tragedy" and an "embarrassment" and told the Morning News, "This is a problem we should be able to address and fix." (Read more Texas stories.)