‘Do Texas moms matter?’ asks lawmaker after bill to better track data is left behind

Investigations

In April, State Rep. Shawn Thierry, D-Houston, testified in front of members of the Public Health Committee.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — State Rep. Shawn Thierry, D-Houston, had high hopes for House Bill 136 that would have required Texas to update data on maternal deaths and near-deaths. 

She said she even filed the bill early just so it would have a chance. 

As the session nears a close, a number of bills including Thierry’s didn’t make Thursday’s midnight deadline to be heard by members of the Texas House. 

“I’m extremely disappointed,” Thierry said. “Once again, it looks like we’re kicking the can down the road and so, I’m just left asking ‘Do Texas moms matter?'”

Labor of love

She testified last month and told members of the Public Health Committee that the state is lacking nearly a decade of data and information.  

Thierry’s bill would have created the development of a work group to establish the first statewide, online maternal mortality and morbidity data registry. 

The web portal would have collected data daily from health care providers on deaths during or within one year of delivery, high-risk conditions and complications. 

“It has been truly a — I’d call it a labor of love, pun intended, trying to pass this legislation to create a statewide data registry so that we can finally eliminate the backlog on all the maternal mortalities and morbidities in this state,” Thierry explained. 

Future of maternal mortality

The bill could still advance as an amendment to another bill, but Thierry said the chances are slim. 

“I’ve looked for so many other bills and vehicles to try to add this legislation to it. But, unfortunately, there was very little legislation done this session on maternal mortality. And, I think that speaks and underscores why I am still continuing to champion this issue. So much more work needs to be done,” Thierry said. 

Her concerns were first highlighted in KXAN’s “Mothers Erased” investigation in 2019 which found problems with how Texas tracks deaths and near deaths.

Last session, the bill never made it to the full chamber. This will be Thierry’s third session pushing for updated numbers and the farthest the bill has gotten.

She said ultimately better data would have meant the implementation of programs and services to improve outcomes.

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