Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Back to the Future, Part 10: Gilead--Are We There Yet?

Back to the Future, Part 10: Making Motherhood Deadly Again (or, Gilead--Are We There Yet?)

In the ongoing effort to "make America great again," here we are with more dismal horrific terrifying what-else-can-we-expect? news for women.

"The U.S. has the highest maternal death rate among the world's developed nations." So, yay?

This great news comes from a study just published by USA Today--but it's probably fake news, right? (You can read the complete story by clicking here.)

The numbers are shocking. In the United States, the rate of maternal mortality is 26.4 deaths per 100,000. Compare that to the rates in Germany, 9 per 100,000; the UK, 8.8 per 100,000; France, 7.8 per 100,000; Canada, 7.3 per 100,000; and Japan, 6.4 per 100,000.

And in those countries, the maternal death rate has been falling since 1990. In the US, by contrast, the rate has been rising. Noticeably.

USA Today graphics

Looking beyond the "most developed" nations, as reported in The Hill, "The United States is home to some of the most advanced obstetric and emergency care found on earth, yet we still rank only 47th for maternal mortality rate globally. . . . "

But wait! There's more: 
While the world has made tremendous strides to improve health outcomes for women and mothers, resulting in plummeting global maternal mortality rates, the United States has actually seen an increase in maternal deaths between 2000 and 2014. We are not in good company—the U.S. is one of only eight nations, and the only industrial nation, that have seen rising maternal mortality rates in recent years [emphasis added].
You can check out data for yourself by looking at UNICEF maternal mortality statistics (updated January 2018).

Update, 25 November 2018: As an important follow-up to these statistics on maternal mortality, I recommend Kim Brooks's New York Times op-ed, "America is Blaming Pregnant Women for Their Own Deaths," which asks the provocative question, "What is it like to face dying during childbirth in the richest country in the world in the 21st century?" (There is a series of terrific responses to the op-ed here.)

(For more fun stories about the current state of affairs, click on the label "Back to the Future," below.)