women's health

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More than half of U.S. rural counties have no hospital where women can give birth, according to MinnPost.com.

According to a new study by the University of Minnesota, over the past decade, the number of U.S. rural counties without obstetric units increased by 50 percent.

This means that rural women are at greater risk of birth-related complications than previously realized.

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Over the past few years, many abortion clinics on the High Plains have shut down. In fact, the High Plains now has zero abortion clinics, which means women on the High Plains must sometimes travel hundreds of miles to access abortion services.

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Texas still has the highest mortality rate among new mothers in the developed world.

In 2010, Texas saw 19 deaths per 100,000 live births. By 2014, that number had doubled to 36. And the maternal mortality rate is particularly pronounced among black women in Texas.

However, despite the high rate of danger for mothers in Texas, legislators in Austin did not pass any legislation this year to study or combat the problem.

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As the special session continues in Austin, lawmakers in the Texas Capitol passed a number of bills last week aimed at restricting access to abortions for Texas women.

As USA TODAY reports, in just one week, four anti-abortion bills passed the Senate and another passed the House. Texas has frequently made national news over the past few years with its repeated attempts to limit access to abortion.

NY Times

As HPPR has reported in the past, the mortality rate for new mothers in Texas has skyrocketed in recent years.

Texas now has a higher rate of pregnancy-related deaths than anywhere in the developed world.

Yet, as Jezebel noted this weekend, Texas lawmakers did virtually nothing to try to fix the problem during the legislative session that just ended.

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Texas is considering officially putting a stop to underage marriage in the state, reports The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Texas currently has the second highest child marriage rate in the country; only West Virginia has a higher rate. The legal age to marry in Texas is 14 with parental consent, and lawmakers say many young girls in Texas are forced into marrying older men by their parents.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The threat of the Zika virus is likely to return to Texas this summer, and, as KUT reports, one of the biggest difficulties health experts are coming up against is a gap in knowledge among citizens. A recent study conducted by the University of Texas’s Medical Branch has found that many vulnerable Texas women aren’t aware of their risk for infection.

Ilana Panich-Linsman / The New York Times

Five years ago, Texas lost out on millions of federal dollars when it banned Planned Parenthood from participating in a program to help low-income women. Now, as The New York Times reports, Texas is asking the Feds if they can have the money back that they lost out on through that decision.

The state is asking the Trump administration for almost half a billion dollars that it would have received half a decade ago if it had acknowledged Planned Parenthood.

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In the State of Texas, the death rate for new mothers is now higher than any other place in the developed world.

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In all but six states, women outnumber men. Yet in many areas of the U.S., women are being treated poorly. There are still 19 states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and women make up the majority of poor, uninsured adults in those states.  

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This weekend, Texas had plans to block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds in the state. But that plan was blocked late last week by a federal judge, who postponed the ruling on whether the women’s health care provider should be removed from Medicaid coverage.

The funding ouster was initially planned for this past Saturday the 21st. But, as Texas Monthly reports, a federal court now says Planned Parenthood can continue to receive funding until Feb. 21st, while the court deliberates further.

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This weekend, hundreds of thousands of supporters of women’s rights will gather in the nation’s capital to try to ensure that their voices are heard and their interests considered by the Trump administration. But hundreds of smaller events are planned on the statewide level as well.

As NewsOk reports, Oklahomans are expected to rally Saturday in Oklahoma City. About the rally, Lindsey Kanaly, an Oklahoma City attorney, said, “We can no longer complain on Facebook, and here is a chance to actually do something.”

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The Trump administration and the GOP-controlled congress have pledged to defund Planned Parenthood this year.

As The Guardian reports, West Texas may offer a cautionary tale about what happens when the government defunds the nation’s largest women’s healthcare provider.

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After more than a year of threats, Texas is officially kicking Planned Parenthood out of its Medicaid program.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, the $3 million in Medicaid reimbursements the organization received in 2015 will be cancelled next month.

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In 2014, Oklahoma passed a law attempting to restrict abortion access in the state. The law, similar to one passed in Texas, required a physician to have admitting privileges at a hospital near the facility where the abortion was performed.

NPR.org

High Plains women who’ve come to rely on free birth control under the Affordable Care Act may lose their benefits once the Trump administration takes the reins.

The law providing cost-free contraception has been popular among working women, but deeply unpopular with foes of abortion rights. And Trump’s pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services is an avowed opponent of reproductive rights.

pulseheadlines.com

Conservative Texas lawmakers have seen hope in the election of Donald Trump when it comes to abortion legislation.

As The Daily Beast reports, in the wake of Trump’s election, Texas Republicans have filed multiple bills banning abortions. The laws are being decried by critics as a bridge too far, even by Texas standards.

Shefali Luthra / Kaiser Health News

If you’re a low-income Texas woman, the state might now pay for you to have an IUD put in, reports The Texas Tribune.

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Oklahoma has opened its first new abortion clinic in over forty years, reports Refinery29.

In fact, Gerald Ford was president the last time Oklahoma opened a new family planning clinic. The Trust Women South Wind Women's Center will provide many services to women, including abortions, Ob/Gyn care, family planning, adoption services, and emergency contraception.

Rural Blog

Nearly half of the counties in the United States lack an obstetrician or gynecologist, reports The Rural Blog. Most of these counties are rural.

Huffington Post

Yesterday HPPR reported on how pregnancy-related deaths in Texas doubled in the year after the state cut funding to women’s health programs. Now, as the Huffington Post reports, Texas is just an extreme snapshot of the United States’ bigger maternal mortality problem.

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Five years ago Texas slashed funding for Planned Parenthood and women’s health programs. That same year, a new study shows, the state experienced a sudden and dramatic spike in pregnancy-related deaths.

Rural Blog

In rural counties across the U.S., the number of women being incarcerated has significantly increased in recent years, according to The Rural Blog. Four out of five of those inmates are being imprisoned for nonviolent crimes.

Patrick Michels / Texas Observer

After decades of being restricted, abortion access is on the rise again in Texas, reports The Texas Observer.

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In recent years, the Texas Legislature has mounted an aggressive push to defund Planned Parenthood. The effort reached an impasse last month when the US Supreme Court struck down a Texas effort to close many clinics in the state.

Now the women’s health organization has received more good news. Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas has received a $2 million donation to fund birth control to low-income residents, reports New York magazine.

Daily Beast

Mosquitos carrying the Zika virus are expected to arrive in the United States as early as this summer, notes The Daily Beast. The disease is known to cause birth defects when contracted by pregnant women. Texas is expected to be among the states most affected by the virus.

Joey Bunch / Denver Post

A women’s organization in Colorado has drawn the attention of The Denver Post for giving its highest marks to Democrats. On a recent scorecard of Colorado legislators, the Women’s Lobby of Colorado gave almost every Democrat a score of 100.

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In honor of Mother’s Day this past weekend, the personal finance website WalletHub has compiled a list of the best and worst states for working moms. A couple of High Plains states fared well on the list, landing in the top 10.

Reuters

Planned Parenthood has filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Kansas over a plan to strip it of government healthcare funding, reports Newsweek. According to court documents released this week, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment plans to cut Planned Parenthood off from state Medicaid funds beginning next Tuesday. The agency is acting at the bequest of Governor Sam Brownback, who says no Kansas taxpayer money should go to Planned Parenthood.

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White women in rural America are having a hard go of it. A recent Washington Post article reported that, around 2000, the death rates for black Americans and Hispanics began to fall while the death rate for white Americans began to rise.

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