AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Activists used Dia de los Muertos as a backdrop, as they continue to put pressure on the state to release what they believe is life-saving maternity data.
Maternal Health Equity Collaborative organized a rally at the Texas State Capitol Tuesday, demanding the release of the latest data on pregnancy deaths from the 2022 Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee and Department of State Health Services.
“The last report, released in 2020, determined that most pregnancy-related deaths were preventable, Black women are more likely to experience pregnancy-related death, and additional study of maternal health disparities was necessary,” Maternal Health Equity Collaborative said in a press release.
Nakeenya Wilson has three kids and had complications that she feels could’ve been prevented had her doctors listened to her.
Wilson, who’s also on the maternal mortality and morbidity committee, shared her story at Tuesday’s rally.
“I’m just gonna have to take a second because I’m overwhelmed,” Wilson said. “Once I delivered my son, the medical staff gave me medicine for hemorrhaging. That has a side effect of increasing blood pressure. I was already suffering from preeclampsia.”
Wilson said she hopes for better days ahead for other mothers like herself.
Texas law requires the report to be released every two years in September. The head of DSHS said in September they’re waiting to release the data until it can be properly interpreted.
Maternal Health Equity Collaborative activists claim the state is stalling because it is an election year. It’s not clear if the committee is legally allowed to delay this data release.
“Governor Greg Abbott, all state legislators, and congressional staff have been invited to participate in this call to action to prioritize people over politics,” Maternal Health Equity Collaborative said in a press release.
DSHS originally planned to release the data next summer, according to the KXAN investigative team. Now, after pressure, the state said data will be released ahead of the 2023 Legislative Session in January. DSHS didn’t specify when exactly it will be released.
KXAN investigative reporter Arezow Doost previously reported the new Interim Commissioner of DSHS said she plans to bring up the need for updated data along with updated recommendations from the committee at the next meeting on Dec. 8.
“My intent is to provide data and recommendations timely to help inform efforts during the 88th Legislative Session. Further, I will ensure the department provides recommendations ahead of the legislative session about how to make the mortality reviews as efficient and beneficial as possible,” said Commissioner Jennifer Shuford in a letter addressed to State Representative and Chair of Texas Women’s Health Caucus Donna Howard, D-Austin, which had inquired about the release of the data.
“The real message here, I think, is give us the information so we can implement things that will make a difference,” Howard said.