Tragically, Texas has high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity. These maternal deaths are extremely heartbreaking and often preventable. In response, Texas formed a Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee in 2013 to try and remedy this problem. Since its inception, the Committee’s number one recommendation has been to provide a full year of medical insurance coverage following the end of a pregnancy. This way, mothers could have access to critical preventative care they need to stay healthy in the time period most associated with maternal illness and death related to pregnancy and birth.
During COVID-19, the federal government blocked removal of anyone from Medicaid, meaning that women who had babies in 2020 enjoyed three additional years of coverage when the current status in Texas was only two months of postpartum coverage. However, this COVID rule ended on March 31, 2023, moving coverage back to just two months postpartum. But starting in June, the recently passed House Bill 12 took effect, extending coverage to a full year for women postpartum. This bill will not make more people eligible for Medicaid coverage; rather, it would extend coverage for already-eligible mothers.
As originally drafted, HB 12 would have allowed Medicaid coverage to begin “on the last day of the woman’s pregnancy,” which means that it could apply for a woman following an abortion obtained illegally or out of state. The Senate added an amendment clarifying that the legislative purpose and intent behind the bill is to extend Medicaid coverage for mothers whose pregnancies end in the delivery of the child or through the natural loss of the child through miscarriage, not pregnancies ended through elective abortion.
After 50 years of abortion being normalized, there are now a lot more babies being born as a result of Texas’ Pro-Life laws. Prior to these laws, many women relied on abortion as a form of birth control, because society and the government made it easier to get rid of the child than to overcome barriers to success in parenting. It may take some time to adjust to a world without abortion as a fallback for society’s problems, but extending postpartum medical coverage is one of the proper Pro-Life responses to this. While Texas works to build a truly Pro-Life state for women and their children, we must remain vigilant to oppose all efforts to legitimize illegal or out of state abortions. But we must also highlight how Texas and the Pro-Life movement are not just anti-abortion, but truly Pro-Life. Policies like this will help us in continuing to build a truly Pro-Life state.