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Grim Statistic: Maternal Mortality on the Rise in the U.S., Especially in the South

GUEST: Monica Simpson, Executive Director of Sister Song, Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective.

Here’s an unusual and depressing fact: the rate of mothers dying during childbirth in the US – that is the maternal mortality rate – has been steadily rising over the years. It is now more than twice the rate than in 1987.

The US is only 1 out of 8 countries in the world where the rate is rising, and the only industrialized country in the world to see an increase. One reporter writing in the Washington Post estimated that, “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.”

The grim statistic is not homogenous. High maternal mortality rates are particularly clustered in the South, in states like Mississippi, and inside those states, it is primarily poor women of color who are dying in childbirth.

One organization working to address the high rates, Merck for Mothers, has called it a human rights crisis. While the reasons for the increase are complex, partly it has been attributed to the rising cost of medical care and the continued under-insuring of poor women.

For more information, visit sistersong.net.