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Texas Appoints Controversial Anti-Abortion Activist to Maternal Mortality Review Committee

Texas Appoints Controversial Anti-Abortion Activist to Maternal Mortality Review Committee

Reproductive justice advocates are alarmed by the recent appointment of Dr. Ingrid Skop, a prominent anti-abortion activist, to Texas’s Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee. This move raises concerns about the committee’s ability to accurately assess the impact of the state’s stringent abortion ban on maternal deaths. Kamyon Conner, executive director of the Texas Equal Access Fund, criticized the appointment, suggesting it prioritizes an anti-abortion agenda over the protection of pregnant Texans’ lives.

Dr. Ingrid Skop’s Background

Dr. Skop, an OB-GYN from San Antonio, is a vice president at the anti-abortion Charlotte Lozier Institute and a member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Texas Appoints Controversial Anti-Abortion Activist to Maternal Mortality Review Committee
Source: Lozier Institute

She has been a vocal opponent of abortion, advocating for strict anti-abortion measures and challenging the FDA’s approval of the abortion drug mifepristone. Her past research has been controversial, with several papers retracted for errors and misleading conclusions.

Doctor’s Controversial Statements & Decisions from the Past

Skop has publicly supported forcing rape and incest victims, including minors, to carry pregnancies to term, arguing that if a girl is physically capable of menstruating and becoming pregnant, she can safely give birth. This stance ignores significant health risks associated with very young pregnancies, such as pre-eclampsia and infections.

In Texas, Skop has frequently testified in favor of state abortion bans, most recently opposing emergency abortion care for a woman with a lethal fetal diagnosis. Despite evidence of women being denied emergency abortions in life-threatening situations, Skop attributes the problem to individual doctors’ judgments rather than the laws themselves. Contrary to many experts, she argues that abortion bans will not increase maternal deaths and may even reduce them, calling the link between abortion restrictions and maternal mortality “fallacious.”

Impact on Maternal Health

Maternal mortality rates in Texas, already among the worst in the US, more than doubled from 1999 to 2019. Skop acknowledges the state’s high maternal death rate and calls for rigorous discourse on the issue. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) questioned her appointment, stressing that maternal health review committee members should be guided by data, not ideology. ACOG emphasized that unbiased, evidence-based analysis is crucial for evaluating maternal mortality and morbidity, especially given the already high rates before the state’s abortion bans.

The Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee, established in 2013, gathers data on pregnancy-related deaths. Its latest report indicated that 90% of maternal deaths in Texas were preventable. The committee plans to examine the impact of state abortion laws on maternal health in future reports.

Community Representation

Nakeenya Wilson, a former committee member and community advocate who nearly died during childbirth, highlighted the importance of diverse representation on the committee. Wilson, who advocated for the release of delayed data and highlighted the disproportionate impact of maternal mortality on Black women, was not reappointed after her role was eliminated in 2023. Wilson questioned whose interests Skop would represent, noting that while Skop’s role is meant for a rural community member, her career has been in San Antonio, a major city.

Texas Appoints Controversial Anti-Abortion Activist to Maternal Mortality Review Committee
Source: Yale Medicine

As Dr. Skop begins her six-year term on June 1, reproductive justice advocates remain concerned about the implications of her appointment for maternal health in Texas.