Delegates Emphasize Women’s, Reproductive Health Ahead of Legislative Session
By Hannah Wisterman


The Texas Medical Association, with its sights on the 2025 Texas legislative session, moved forward with policy in alignment with its past and future public health advocacy at TexMed, including a host of new goals for reproductive, women’s, and perinatal health care.

Following a trend growing in organized medicine, the House of Delegates voted to adopt a resolution calling on TMA to support legislation and measures that:

  • Increase federal and state funding for women’s health research;
  • Increase the representation of women and underrepresented minorities in clinical research;
  • Promote the safe inclusion of pregnant and lactating women in research trials;
  • Increase the representation of women conducting research; and
  • Promote the evaluation of disparities in women’s health research.

Though concerns were raised that pregnant and breastfeeding women and minorities are more vulnerable to exploitation through clinical research, other testimony emphasized that the negative health outcomes of excluding them from study are too great.

“About 10% of births in the nation occur in Texas, and embarrassingly, we have some of the worst maternal mortality in the country,” said Rakhi Dimino, MD, a Houston obstetrician-gynecologist, speaking as chair of the Committee on Reproductive, Women’s, and Perinatal Health during debate on the house floor. “TMA is the one to do this because Texas is our problem.”

Other women’s, reproductive, and perinatal health items the house adopted on recommendation of the Reference Committee on Science and Public Health include TMA policy to:

  • Address the state’s ongoing syphilis and congenital syphilis crisis, including through education, funding, data, workforce efforts, and accessibility of medication; and
  • Direct legislative advocacy efforts to recognize and protect in vitro fertilization (IVF) and related assisted reproductive technology procedures.

The latter point was of serious focus as other southern states, namely Alabama, face legal turmoil over IVF resulting from legislative definitions of personhood and property.

“I run one of the larger fertility complexes in the [Dallas-Fort Worth] metroplex. The [Texas] abortion bills SB 8, SB 4, specifically defined pregnancy as inside the uterus. The bills had zero impact on in vitro fertilization or the storage of reproductive materials,” Dallas endocrinologist Samuel Chantilis, MD, testified to the reference committee. He now fears legal precedent could put medical care in danger.

“This is a very timely issue. We do not have two years to think about this,” Dr. Dimino additionally testified to the committee in her capacity as chair of the Committee on Reproductive, Women’s, and Perinatal Health.

Delegates also directed TMA to:
  • Improve transparency and responses from manufacturers, wholesalers, and pharmacists when a drug shortage occurs. Physicians have recently seen medication shortages impact mental health outcomes for some patients, as well as endanger mothers, babies, and other patients facing a syphilis diagnosis.
  • Advocate for funding of state-level plans to end the HIV epidemic that focus on prevention, early diagnosis, and initiation of treatment, among other efforts to improve HIV care.
  • Advocate for the provision of opioid overdose reversal medicine and age-appropriate education on overdoses to elementary, middle, high school, and higher education students.

For more details on TMA’s public health policies, visit the House of Delegates webpage.

Last Updated On

May 15, 2024

Originally Published On

May 15, 2024

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Hannah Wisterman


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Hannah Wisterman is an associate editor for Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. She was born and raised in Houston and holds a journalism degree from Texas State University in San Marcos. She's spent most of her career in health journalism, especially in the areas of reproductive and public health. When she's not reporting, editing, or learning, you can find her exploring Austin or spending time with her partner, cat, and houseplants.

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