Wallie Morris: Maternal mortality on the rise in US
More women die of pregnancy-related complications in the United States than in any other developed country in the world. Roughly 700 American women die each year from causes related to pregnancy, post-partum or childbirth.
That number represents a 26.6% increase in maternal deaths from 2000 to 2014. Black women in America are 243% more likely than white women to die of pregnancy-related causes.
Per Colorado’s Maternal-Mortality Review Committee — part of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment — the maternal mortality death rate in the state doubled from 2008 to 2013, rising from 24 women to 47 women per 100,000 annually. This may seem like a small number, but any significant increase in maternal mortality is indicative of a greater public health problem. The committee determined that 80% of the deaths were preventable, mainly through better medical care, mental health care or substance abuse treatment.
Factors such as poverty, racism and social and economic policy greatly impact maternal mortality. It is no surprise that despite advancements in medicine, American woman are dying in or after childbirth at a rising rate.
The institutions that provide reproductive health services to women are under constant threat of defunding. Access to effective birth control, prenatal and post-partum care, mental health and substance abuse services are being limited.
While the state of Colorado is working to remedy this crisis through local legislation, on a national level, our own Republican Sen. Cory Gardner has voted 10 times to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest women’s health care provider.
As we continue to fight for reproductive freedom in our country, we also need to fight for reproductive justice. We need to elect representatives who support the institutions that provide reproductive health care, rather than defund them.
We need to ensure that all women, regardless of socioeconomic status or race have easy access to prenatal care and post-partum mental health services by supporting health care legislation that requires health insurance companies to cover all aspects of health care.
Election season is nearing. Through your vote, you can change the political trajectory to move toward reproductive freedom and justice, rather than away from it.
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