The Guardian's headline was appalling, but not really surprising to anyone who has been alive and paying attention in Texas for the past few years:
The story that followed gave the shocking facts.
A report in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology gives details of a study by researchers from the University of Maryland, Boston University's school of public health, and Stanford university's medical school. The study found that the rate of Texas women who died from complications related to pregnancy doubled from 2010 to 2014 to 35.8 deaths per 100,000 births in 2014. This represents a maternal mortality rate higher than any other state and higher than any other country in the developed world.
Yes, we're number one - in women's deaths from the complications of pregnancy.
The report stated that the doubling of mortality rates in the study period was hard to explain "in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval." But, in fact, there is a war raging in Texas. It is the war against women's health options being waged by the right-wingers who control state government here.
This government has drastically reduced the number of Texas' reproductive health care clinics. At the time that the rise in deaths began, in 2011, for example, the state legislature cut $73.6 million from the state's family planning budget of $111.5. That cut forced more than 80 family planning clinics to shut down across the state. The clinics that survived this cut managed to provide services to only half as many women as before.
Then, of course, there is the state government's well-documented attempts to utterly destroy all Planned Parenthood clinics in the state. They eliminated Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funding that provides poor women with preventive health care. In one fell swoop, they wiped out the main - and, in some cases, only - source available to those women for cancer screenings and contraception.
Texas is a big state and it is a long way to anywhere here. Closing all those clinics meant that 130,000 women could no longer access the care they needed, or else that they would have to travel long distances to access it - very difficult to do when you are poor to begin with and trying to hold down a job and perhaps care for two or three children.
And the wrongheaded and downright cruel decisions of our state officials continue. This month Texas' health department allocated a precious $1.6 million of the $18 million that the state budgets for low-income women's family planning to an anti-abortion group that does not even provide basic health services! One shudders to imagine what the maternal death rate here might be like in another couple of years.
A follow-up op-ed that appeared in The Guardian after that initial story had this headline:
For a political party and a state government that brags about its "family values" and its concern for "the health of the mother," this headline and the commentary that follows it testify to the stunning hypocrisy embodied in those Texas boasts.