We Can Send a Tesla into Space, but Can't Prevent Pregnancy-Related Deaths
The United States of America is considered a leading nation in the world due to the wealth and resources available. American exceptionalism is largely championed and demonstrated through political freedoms, social mobility, educational opportunities, and economic growth. However, why is then the maternal death rate so high in such a prosperous nation?
Earlier this year, comedian and political commentator, Samantha Bee discussed this issue in her show, Full Frontal. She revealed a staggering statistic: women who give birth in America are three times more likely to die than those who give birth in the United Kingdom. Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world.
According to Bee, the United States government is spending a greater amount of money on maternal care. However, most of that money is directed to neonatal care, rather than the mother’s well-being. She also asserted that Black women and women in rural areas are more at risk for death while pregnant or giving birth. She explained that some rural hospitals lack obstetrics services due to budget cuts. This forces women to trek many miles while in labor. The cost both physically and financially is a lot to bear.
The issue of the maternal death rate in the United States, has been discussed for many years. For example, last year, NPR teamed up with ProPublica to investigate the maternal death rate in the United States. They concluded that many hospitals are unprepared for maternal emergencies. Moreover, the ages of mothers tend to be increasing, which also increases the risk of death due to possible chronic medical issues. However, the increasing age of mothers is not unique to the United States.
In 2015, the “Save the Children State of the World's Mothers report (2015)” ranked the United States 66th out of 179 countries for maternal well-being, while Norway ranked first on the list. The report stated that “In the United States, women face a 1 in 1,800 risk of maternal death. This is the worst performance of any developed country in the world”. The report proposes that one possible reason for this staggering statistic is the lack of female representation in Congress.
The tragically high maternal death rate is contrasted by the fantastically low infant death rate in the United States (Bee). The United States is focusing more of its resource on preventing infant death than on caring for the mothers who gave birth to the babies.