How We’re Doing: Maternal Mortality Increasing in the US

In the ongoing furor over abortion and health care, there’s an issue at the intersection of the two that has gone little-examined: maternal health. A new Amnesty International report released before this weekend’s critical vote–in combination with a call for action to President Obama–reveals a problem that remains under most people’s radar: Maternal mortality rates in the US have more than doubled since the 1980s.

In fact, maternal mortality in the US is now higher than in 40 other countries. And women of color are–as usual–hit the hardest by a flawed and grossly imbalanced system. In general, they are two to four times less likely to receive pre-natal care than white women, and black women in particular are four times more likely to die from complications. And, since women of color make up more than half of the country’s uninsured, they also have the lowest access to family planning services, pre- and post-natal care and quality health care.

Most troubling of all, the report concludes that the problem is almost entirely the result of a dysfunctional medical system plagued by outright discrimination, financial and bureaucratic barriers and serious systemic failures.

The good news is that the recently passed health care bill may alleviate some of these inequities. At the very least, it’s big step towards removing potentially life-threatening cost barriers for pregnant women and new mothers. Unfortunately, with that step forward comes a step back: Since half of all pregnancies are unintended, full access to sexual and family planning services is crucial to fixing this devastating problem, but the anti-abortion language in the health-care bill may make it difficult for insurers to offer abortion coverage.

Now that health care reform is a fact, the gravity of the rising maternal mortality numbers only reinforces the hypocrisy of those leaders who, with rhetoric advocating “life,” sought to kill a bill that would expand access to vital care for expectant mothers.

How many women in your state have insurance and how high is maternal mortality? Click the markers below to find out.

[iframe http://www.zeemaps.com/widget?group=151845 100% 450]

Read Ms. blogger Danielle Roderick’s take on this issue in her piece, “If you’re pregnant, you’ve been f*****d.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the article – “Most troubling of all, the report concludes that the problem is almost entirely the result of a dysfunctional medical system plagued by outright discrimination, financial and bureaucratic barriers, and serious systemic failures.” is my favorite part. Although that has been clear with all the things I”ve been reading lately, this is the first I’ve seen it put so succinctly.

    That map is some crazy stuff!

  2. The morning after signing of the reportedly landmark, historic health care overhaul is an apt time for publishing some little details that were omitted! I’m so nuts about this column that I am linking it to my own blog, dedicated to passage of The Equal Rights Amendment …

  3. This is terrible, we certainly have the resources so that things like this don’t happen.

  4. Absolutely shocking.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sharon59, Sharon. Sharon said: Maternal Mortality Increasing in the US : Ms Magazine Blog: http://bit.ly/994qGz #prochoice #reprojustice #birth [...]

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by NYCprochoiceMD: Maternal Mortality Increasing in the US : Ms Magazine Blog: http://bit.ly/994qGz #prochoice #reprojustice #birth…

Speak Your Mind

*