It’s not that safe to carry a child and give birth.
According to a new study from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, pregnancy-related deaths in Texas doubled from 2010 to 2012, as reported in The Huffington Post. In 2012, 148 Texas women died from pregnancy-related problems; 72 died in 2010. The study found that the increase occurred around the same time that the state decreased funding for women’s health programs, including Planned Parenthood, by two-thirds.
Maternal death rates are on the rise across the United States, too, according to the World Health Organization. While countries like China, Poland, and Romania experienced a decrease in childbirth-related deaths from 1993 to 2013, the U.S. saw a 1.7% increase. It is the only developed country that saw an increase during that period.
Throughout the world, hemorrhages, sepsis from childbirth, and unsafe abortions are the top three causes of pregnancy-related deaths, according to a 2015 report published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. What is causing more and more women to experience these medical problems is not clear.
“There is sadly no magic bullet that explains what is behind the high levels of maternal mortality in the United States,” said Rachel Ward, managing director of research at Amnesty International U.S., in an interview with to Aljazeera. “It’s a combination of factors that speak to the systemic problems of failing to provide affordable, accessible, quality health services to all women in the United States.”
There are several factors that may be linked to the rise of maternal deaths including poverty and limited access to healthcare. The amount of Americans living in poverty has slowly increased since 2000, according to the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan. Research indicates that this group is more likely to experience health problems and pregnancy risk factors like depression, asthma, obesity, and diabetes.
For the women in Texas, particularly in rural areas, the closing of Planned Parenthood clinics across the state may be linked to the growing number of deaths. “Chances are they’re going to have a harder time finding somewhere to go to get that first appointment,” Sarah Wheat, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, told the Dallas Morning News. “They may be delayed in getting that initial pregnancy test and then a prenatal referral.”
The exact cause of this uptick is unknown, but a special team has been tasked to study the problem. They’ll release their first report this September.