Mamas on Bedrest: Game ON!

October 4th, 2013

Wendy Davis is running for Governor of Texas!! The image of her on the cover of Texas Monthly shows her with her now trademark sneakers and the tagline, “Game On”.

Okay, what does this have to do with Mamas on Bedrest you may be asking? It means that women will once again get a chance to receive medical care that has long been denied here in Texas.

Texas has some of the worst records when it comes to women’s health. According to Cecile Richards, The President of Planned Parenthood,

“Over the past two years, 76 women’s health centers have been forced to close their doors and stop providing affordable, lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing, and basic preventive care. And when Governor Perry and his allies ended the Texas Women’s Health Program, more than 130,000 women were shut off from accessing the health care they need, purely because of politics.”

In addition, in Texas, many health insurance plans do not offer maternity coverage. Yup. You read me right. Health insurance policies are not required to cover maternity care, and many of the carriers who cover Texas women don’t provide coverage for maternity services as part of their standard insurance plans. What they do is offer women “the opportunity to purchase an additional rider for maternity care.” In other words, if your insurance policy doesn’t include maternity coverage, you must pay for the rider or wing it and hope that you don’t incur ANY complications for which you will be responsible. I know many women who have fared just fine in this system. They receive their care from excellent midwives and many have home or birthing center births. But for those of us who are high risk, or for those of us who become high risk, not having maternity coverage and developing a complication during pregnancy can cause catastrophic financial damage.

Now, we all need to take a breath. Wendy Davis has simply announced that she is running for governor. She has not yet won. But for Texas women, this is the best news to come in a really long time. The fact that there is even a potential that someone may become an elected official that actually CARES about women’s health and is willing to take a stand for it and demand it on behalf of thousands of women is great new indeed.

Some people see Davis as purely an abortion rights advocate. If you only see her in that light, you are missing the much larger picture. Davis stands for women, children and those which many call “the underserved”. She is a champion or education, something desperately needed as Texas schools rank near the bottom in the country on per pupil spending. She has fought against education cuts 2 years ago and was able to get reinstated $3billion dollars of the $5billion cut in education.  It’s going to be a tough battle. Davis is going up against a strong “good ole boy” establishment and a strong candidate in Gregg Abbott. Many of the “status Quo” are not taking her campaign too seriously. They feel that while there is a lot of national attention focused on Davis, within Texas, she’s not going to be able to make the impact necessary to win the election.

I hope that they are wrong.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reports that the infant mortality rate overall in Texas is 6.1/1000 live births. However, black infants die at a rate of 11.4/1000 live births. Additionally, the Maternal mortality rate overall is 24.6/100,000  births with black women having a maternal mortality rate of 53.9.  Analysts from the state and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attribute these numbers to lack of access to quality medical care.

Now Wendy Davis, if elected governor of Texas won’t be able to change all that is wrong with Texas women’s health care overnight. She will still have to contend with the “good ole boy” network and the very conservative right which is a large segment of the electorate in Texas. However, the demographics have changed alot over the years and there are substantial numbers of women and ethnic minorities able to vote. We will all have to see if these changing demographics are enough to turn the tide on the electorate, to elect Wendy Davis governor and to positively effect access to quality, comprehensive Women’s health care in Texas.

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