Some Republicans are shutting down any legislation aimed at helping women and passing those that harm them. Ahead of President Donald Trump's inauguration in late January and the beginning of the 2017 legislative session, state legislatures had already filed at least 46 anti-abortion bills. Now, instead of passing harmful bills, certain Republicans seem to have taken to letting helpful bills die. Right before Mother's Day weekend, Texas Republicans blocked two maternal mortality bills meant to combat the rising rates in the state.
Rising maternal mortality rates is a major issue in the United States as of late — NPR and ProPublica recently investigated the issue and found that women in America are three times more likely than women in Canada to die during or after childbirth, and six times more likely to die than women in Scandinavia. Every year in the United States, 700 to 900 women die due to pregnancy-related causes, and a whopping 65,000 nearly die, the outlets reported.
Texas House Bill 2403 would have commissioned a study on how race and socioeconomic issues affect maternity care for black women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black women are three times more likely than white women to die in childbirth.
The second bill, House Bill 1158, would have connected first-time mothers on Medicaid with services. According to The Texas Tribune, in 2011 and 2012, 189 women in Texas died within a year after their pregnancy, largely because of heart disease, drug overdose, and high blood pressure. And the rates of maternal deaths nearly doubled between 2010 and 2014.
The bills were two of more than 100 that the Texas House Freedom Caucus let die at midnight on Thursday by forcing a slowdown on voting. According to The Houston Chronicle, the Freedom Caucus cited revenge for Speaker Joe Straus' rebuffing their agenda as the reason for the late-night massive bill-killing. "What we're doing is exactly what they did to our bills," one representative said.
Five House members' signatures are needed to block a bill on the calendar, and 13 members signed a letter blocking the 100-plus bills. Several other deadlines are nearing for the Texas legislative session, and it's important that Texas representatives understand the negative impact they are making on their constituents by allowing the bills to die.
Given the seriousness of the issue, the rate in which Texas women are affected, as well as the tension between women's health care and the Republican Party, you would think that representatives would make an effort to support legislation that would put effort toward finding ways to help women who are pregnant. The fact that the bill died right before Mother's Day weekend makes it all the more sad. Representatives who celebrate Mother's Day but can't even pass legislation to help mothers in their state look like hypocrites.