A recent headline in The Washington Post naturally caught my eye: Why pregnant women in Mississippi keep dying. I clicked the link hoping that I might learn, you know, why pregnant women in Mississippi keep dying. I know, silly me.
“The U.S. maternal health community doesn’t know exactly why,” [Priya Agrawal, executive director of Merck for Mothers] said. A number of factors may exacerbate the problem, which she called a human rights crisis.
Weird. I’m not part of the “maternal health community” by any stretch, and yet even I know exactly why pregnant women in Mississippi keep dying: our terrible for-profit healthcare system is why. Oh wait I’m sorry. I forgot to say “SPOILER ALERT!” before that.
Despite heavy spending, the United States was one of just eight countries to see a rise in maternal mortality over the past decade, ranking 60 for pregnancy-related deaths on a list of 180 countries, according to research last year from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Other countries that also saw a rise in maternal mortality included Afghanistan, Greece, El Salvador and South Sudan.
We are number 60! GO USA!
The United States is the only advanced economy in the world with a rising maternal mortality rate.
Ah, American exceptionalism. Makes me so proud. :D
Deaths related to childbirth in the United States are nearing the highest rate in a quarter-century. An estimated 18.5 mothers died for every 100,000 births in 2013, compared with 7.2 per 100,000 in 1987. This means a woman giving birth here is twice as likely to die than in Saudi Arabia and three times as likely than in the United Kingdom.
And it turns out that Mississippi is TOTALLY THE WORST:
Mississippi’s maternal mortality rate, one of the highest in the country, has been climbing for more than a decade. From 2010 to 2012, the last measure, an average of nearly 40 women died for every 100,000 births. Risk varied drastically by race: The rate for black women, 54.7, was much higher than the rate for white women, 29.3.
Mississippi, for example, did not expand Medicaid, leaving 107,000 people — nearly half of whom are women — with no insurance options at all, according to the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. It also has the country’s lowest physician-to-resident ratios: 159.4 doctors for every 100,000 people.
Thanks for ruining the curve FOR EVERYONE, Mississippi. You’re making us all look bad compared to that Mecca of women’s rights, Saudi Arabia. (<—LOL. See what I did there? I crack myself up.)
The cost of care for pregnant women, meanwhile, has sharply risen. The average cost of delivery here has nearly tripled since 1996, according to a Truven Health Analytics analysis for the New York Times. Maternal and newborn care make up the largest category of hospital payouts for most insurers and state Medicaid programs. Our country’s approximate four million annual births cost more than $50 billion.
Call me cynical, but does the medical-industrial-complex—that would be the exact same medical-industrial-complex that routinely denies abortion providers the admitting privileges required under state TRAP laws—perhaps have a $50 billion incentive to force women to give birth?
Meanwhile, some Tea Party weasel in the Texas legislature spewed forth an anti-choice amendment so awful that even some Republicans objected. TEXAS REPUBLICANS, people. And here I thought there was no practical limit to the sheer amount of weaselry the Texas legislature could get up to.
Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) put forward an amendment that would make it illegal to terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks, even if a fetus “has a severe and irreversible abnormality,” effectively forcing families with wanted, but unsustainable pregnancies to carry to term at the behest of the state and against the advice of their doctors or their own wishes.
And to think some people actually balk whenever I call these individuals Forced Birthers. Hey, why don’t we ask Savita Halappanavar what she thinks of this idea? Oh wait, we can’t. Because she’s dead, having been denied an abortion during the miscarriage of her non-viable, 17-week-old fetus. See, that’s how “pro-life” works.
Anyway, this Schaefer d00d was not quite finished being an epic weasel just yet:
Schaefer said, during debate over his amendment, that suffering is “part of the human condition, since sin entered the world.”
WHAT. There is of course no such thing as sin entering the world. But suffering is indeed very much part of the human condition—and this turns out to be especially true wherever conservatives abound. That is just a fact.
I am inclined to agree with a Facebook acquaintance, who said:
I’d like to introduce an amendment that would make it illegal for Matt Schaefer to seek medical attention for any reason, because suffering is part of the human condition.
Except that unlike Mr. Schaefer, I do not relish the thought of causing or increasing the needless suffering of other people. Nor would I ever flippantly justify my violent sadism by citing a sadistic fairy tale. I mean, how nasty a piece of work are you when even some of your fellow Texas Republican legislators condemn your anti-abortion amendment?
Even some Republican lawmakers opposed Schaefer’s proposal, casting it as a cruel and unnecessary intrusion into the lives of grieving Texans.
“Why should the heavy, blunt hand of the government come into that most heartrending decision?” said Rep. J.D. Sheffield (R-Gatesville), a medical doctor.
“Because I just loooove the idea of pregnant Texans suffering horribly and possibly even dying for absolutely no reason whatsoever!” said Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler).
OKAY HE DID NOT SAY THAT. I totally made that up. Or perhaps I accurately translated his thoughts and actions into words, hmmm? Unfortunately, not enough Republicans objected to Schaefer’s amendment: it passed. Fortunately, a Democrat used a procedural block to put the legislation back in review—no doubt to rise from the dead and plague us again another day.
Readers can rest assured that while he is ensconced in our world-famous involuntary organ donation facility, Mr. Schaefer will receiving all the extra-special attention he deserves. We just want to help him get more in touch with the human condition.