On behalf of the Association for Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), the national organization that represents over 350,000 nurses who are clinically active in hospitals, perinatal facilities, and health centers, I am writing to offer my sincere appreciation to Texas State Representative Shawn Thierry for drafting Texas H.B. 51 for the special legislative session titled, “An act relating to pregnancy-related deaths and maternal morbidity, including postpartum depression.”
If passed, this bill will explore how race and socioeconomic factors affect access and care for pregnant black women and will allow the task force to specifically to study the dramatic increase in maternal deaths for this at-risk population. The fact that maternal deaths have doubled in Texas from 2010 to 2012, with a disproportionate number of those deaths being black women, is tragic. In addition, the statistic that African-American women make up 11 percent of births in Texas but 30 percent of maternal deaths must be addressed.
At AWHONN we take seriously the issue of rising maternal morbidity related deaths. We have found sharing actual stories to be one of the most influential methods to inform lawmakers about this cause, and stories from nurses can be exceptionally powerful. Stories from nurses share authentic human experiences and demonstrate the unique connections nurses have with patients and their families. In Texas, AWHONN has over 2,000 nurse members, and many of them would welcome an opportunity to assist Rep. Thierry in championing this bill.
I would like to encourage nurses and the public to look into what your state legislatures are doing to address maternal morbidity and mortality. In order to address this vitally important issue we need you to share your stories so that our voices can be heard nationwide.
I want to thank Texas Rep. Shawn Thierry again for everything she has done and urge her to continue to improve the health of women and newborns. I wish her much success in passing this legislation.