AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of State Health Services is delaying the release of maternal death data, which was due to be reported on Sept. 1. Now it likely won’t be released until after the 88th Legislative session, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Nicole Collier, Chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus called the delay unacceptable.
“Texas has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the Country, it is unacceptable for this data to be delayed until next summer. The legislature does not enact laws only to have them disregarded or have intermittent compliance,” Collier said in a statement.
“We are weeks past the deadline, and are just now learning the report will be delayed well into 2023. We need a better understanding of the underlying issues facing women during pregnancy in Texas to tackle this problem with urgency.”
In 2019, a KXAN investigation found issues with how the state tracks maternal deaths.
After the investigation, Rep. Shawn Thierry, D-Houston, filed a bill focused on improving the process. The bill cleared a Texas House Committee but never made it to the full chamber.
She refiled a bill during the last legislative session. It aimed to create the development of a work group to establish the first statewide, online maternal mortality and morbidity data registry. It died in chamber.
“When Black women are dying in childbirth at three times the rates of all other women, the delay by DSHS to publicly release the report from the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee is beyond troubling,” Thierry said.
“The data contained in this report is critically needed in order to inform the medical community and the Texas legislature on best practices to prevent future pregnancy-related deaths. The release of this report by DSHS is not optional, as it is required by state law.”
The Texas Tribune reported that this is the first time the state’s maternal mortality report has been delayed. It would’ve been the fourth report since 2014.