A new study has found that Republican-led legislation has caused the maternal mortality rate to more than double in only two years. In fact, the maternal mortality rate is unmatched not only in the US, but anywhere else in the developed world.
We’re not used to talking about issues with maternal mortality in the developed world because it rarely rises, and even such rises aren’t dramatic. The United Nations Millennium Development Goal for a 75% reduction in maternal mortality from 1990 to 2015 is being accomplished in most of the world, with levels dropping significantly throughout Europe, Australia and some parts of Asia.
In the US, however, things aren’t looking so bright – the maternal mortality rate in the States increased from 18.8 in 2000 to 23.8 in 2014, a 26.6% increase. In Texas especially, results are puzzling. The rate has steadily grown from 2000 to 2010 and then quickly doubled in 2011-2012. The researchers called for further study to examine this unprecedented increase (in the absence of war, famine or other catastrophic events).
However, they did come up with a possible explanation. They noticed that in 2011, just as the spike began, Republican-led budget cuts decimated the ranks of Texas’s reproductive healthcare clinics. The Texas state legislature cut $73.6m from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5m, forcing more than 80 family planning clinics to shut down. These family planning clinics were providing services such as free birth control, cancer screenings and well-woman exams. Basically, half of the state was left without a family planning clinic – ironically, to make way for anti-abortion promotion: $1.6m from the state budget was allocated to an anti-abortion group that does not provide basic health services.
With their anti-abortion and anti-family-planning policiesTexan policies are killing mothers, and the situation is extremely worrying. Authors urge policymakers to promote new efforts and improve maternity care.
“In conclusion, the maternal mortality rate for 48 states and Washington, DC, from 2000 to 2014 was higher than previously reported, is increasing, and places the United States far behind other industrialized nations.
There is a need to redouble efforts to prevent maternal deaths and improve maternity care for the 4 million US women giving birth each year,” the authors said.
Journal Reference: Recent Increases in the U.S. Maternal Mortality Rate: Disentangling Trends From Measurement Issues. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001556