TMA House Sets Goal of Eliminating Maternal Mortality
By Steve Levine


Carlos J. Cardenas, MD, TMA’s immediate past president, threw down a gauntlet to his physician colleagues on Saturday — a goal of eliminating deaths among Texas’ pregnant women and new mothers.

“One maternal death is one too many,” Dr. Cardenas told the TMA House of Delegates during Saturday’s business session. “Let’s aim for zero!”

The house accepted Dr. Cardenas’ challenge and voted unanimously to add that lofty goal to what had been a eight-point plan to address Texas’ maternal health crisis.

“I know that today, we may not have the tools, we may not have the technology, we may not have the knowledge to understand how we will ever reach that goal,” Dr. Cardenas said. “I know that today, there are some maternal deaths we cannot fathom how to prevent. But that doesn’t mean we should ever stop trying.”

Among the solutions to maternal health adopted by the house:

  • Ask Texas to request a federal waiver to build a tailored health benefits program for uninsured women of childbearing age. This program will provide the kinds of health care — including primary care, behavioral health care, preventive care, and specialty care — to keep Texas women healthy before, during, and after pregnancy.
  • Have TMA develop a formal education program to help Texas physicians better recognize substance use disorders among the women, and find treatment options. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of maternal death in Texas.
  • Eliminate unnecessary barriers and red tape preventing women from easily obtaining the most effective forms of contraception: intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants. The TMA Maternal Health Congress report states, “Increasing women’s ability to plan and space their pregnancies leads to lower abortion rates, improved infant and maternal health, educational and economic opportunities for women and their families, and cost savings for the state.”
  • Have TMA develop a formal education program for physicians, nurses, and hospitals on the best practices proven to prevent death and disease among women during and after pregnancy. 
  • Have TMA develop a campaign to educate the public on how women can make motherhood safer by taking better care of themselves before they get pregnant; getting early and timely care when they become pregnant; and knowing where to find help after their babies are born.

Update: This story has been updated to say the TMA House of Delegates adopted an eight-point plan to address Texas' maternal health crisis.

Last Updated On

August 21, 2018

Steve Levine

VP, Communication

(512) 370-1380
Steve Levine

A former statehouse reporter, political press secretary, and state agency spokesman, Steve Levine has directed the Communication Division at TMA since 1997. He oversees Texas Medicine, Texas Medicine Today, TMA's media and public relations activities, and the TMA Knowledge Center, website, and social media activities.

More stories by Steve Levine