Birthing a Brighter Future!

Empowering Harris County Families through Maternal Health Rights

Every family starting their journey to becoming parents deserves a happy, calm, and safe experience. The Harris County Maternal Health Bill of Rights (MHBoR) lists what birthing persons and families in Harris County deserve, guaranteeing them dignified, fair, and respectful care when pregnant, giving birth, and after having a baby.

About the Harris County Public Health Maternal Health Bill of Rights

For Harris County Community

The MHBoR outlines the rights of all birthing persons and families in Harris County by promoting and supporting respectful, equitable, and high-quality care before, during, and after pregnancy. As a birthing person, you have the fundamental right to comprehensive and transparent information about your healthcare options, including the benefits, risks, and costs associated with procedures, medications, and treatments.

Your decisions are to be respected without coercion, ensuring that you are fully empowered to choose the path that aligns with your values, beliefs, and cultural background. Furthermore, you have the right to a supportive environment where your choices regarding breastfeeding, infant care, and postpartum support are honored and facilitated. Your health and rights are our priority.

Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States

The health of birthing persons and babies is crucial for the entire community's well-being. Each year, about 50,000 birthing persons in the U.S. face severe health issues during pregnancy, and some of these health issues can even lead to death. About 80% of pregnancy-related deaths could have been prevented, highlighting the need for improvements in the health of birthing persons and their babies.

Maternal Mortality Rates in Harris County

Harris County’s pregnancy-related death rate has been consistently higher than the U.S. rate since 2016. In 2020, Harris County’s pregnancy-related death rate increased from 31.65 per 100,000 live births (2019) to 54.85 per 100,000 live births. The leading cause of pregnancy-related death in Harris County is maternal care for other conditions occurring during pregnancy. Black, non-Hispanic women had the highest pregnancy-related death rate among all racial and ethnic groups (83.4 per 100,000 live births).

Harris County had a higher death rate among babies than Texas and the United States. Among racial groups, Black, non-Hispanic women had the highest infant death rate at 11.66 per 1,000 births, followed by Hispanic women at 5.4 per 1,000 births. The rate of low birthweight infants has consistently exceeded the national averages, with a rising trend. Approximately 92 out of 1,000 infants in Harris County are born with low birthweight, compared to 85 out of 1,000 nationwide. In 2017, the rate was 87.8 per 1,000 live births, increasing to 91.9 in 2018 and 92.6 in 2021.

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For Harris County Healthcare Providers

Healthcare providers in Harris County are encouraged to incorporate the MHBoR into their practices, fostering a culture that values respect, fairness, and top-notch care for all birthing persons and families. This means championing the right of birthing individuals to make informed decisions about their and their newborn's health, free from coercion or discrimination.

The MHBoR highlights the importance of timely and thorough care before, during, and after pregnancy, with a focus on both physical and emotional well-being. By emphasizing dignity, compassion, and autonomy, healthcare providers create an environment where birthing persons feel empowered and valued. Acting as a roadmap for healthcare systems, the MHBoR promotes transparency and communication to prioritize the health and rights of both the birthing individual and their newborn. Providers are encouraged to educate birthing individuals and their families about their rights.

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